Fortnum & MasonEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
First Lapsang I tried just from the description at the airport. I was blown away. It was like if you could turn Christmas lifetime movie into a drink. It was warm, toasty and reminded me of a camp fire on a cold day- an odd description for tea but it created a nice ambiance.
It was very very smokey, artificial, it was what I liked. I love the smokey taste so much and it was very prominent in this tea. The tea was very forgiving in the brew time. I found that out by accident. It is also not as great when cold, so drink it when its hot or warm. Cold it taste like liquid smoke.
Definitely glad I picked this up at the airport and I am trying to find a lapsang similar to this one. Having a hard time doing that though.
My absolute favorite tea. I discovered this by chance back in 1995 on a trip to London and quickly developed an addiction. With milk and honey it becomes quite a decadent treat., to be savored and saved for when you need a reset moment. This is not for everyone, but those who love it, love it with an obscene passion.
(Note: I used the proportions recommended on the tin for this tasting, aka 3 teaspoons for the teapot. I made it for two.)
This was my first time trying a Lapsang Souchong. I didn’t get a sample of this one, I bought a whole tin right away – it was somehow calling me in a way that I can’t really describe. I had to have it shipped to a distant acquaintance in England who then brought it to France. The shipping costs are awfully high when you have F&M’s tea shipped to the continent.
It would have been an absolute personal tragedy had I not liked this tea. But I tried to dive into it without having too high expectations.
The leaves of this one are very nice to look at. They’re long-ish and unbroken for the most part. I’d never smelled Lapsang Souchong before. So I opened the tin, preparing for the best moment of my life and… salmon. And rubber tyres. What?
I must admit, I was disappointed. I had been hoping for that deep, wonderful revelation you only see in movies. But like all challenging teas, your love for Lapsang Souchong must be earned. You gotta work for it. So that’s what I did.
I smelled the tea every now and then during the whole steeping process. The initial salmon and rubber progressively turned into a more herbaceous smell that was very evocative of a romanticized hearth and everything it implies. You know – the small home you’d imagine the people from the Middle Ages might have lived in (I’m sorry, darling), where everyone would gather and have tea together near the fireplace. As I said, romanticized.
Once steeped for 5 minutes, the brew was very clear and bright orange.
Now, the taste. It was very difficult, for me, to go beyond the salmon and rubber. I had to force my way through it until I emerged on the other side. Lapsang Souchong is a quest – not everyone makes it (which is okay, to each their own!), but if you do the finest rewards await you. What a delight to sit at the table and know that your cup contains such joy and happiness, and that if you truly want to get through to them, all you have to do is listen to the leaves!
At first I didn’t sense any astringency at all, which made me wonder if I had brewed it wrong somehow. I later realised that it is, in fact, astringent, but in a very stealthy way.
When I finished my first cup, I wasn’t quite sure I had made it yet. Therefore, I very bravely put the leaves back in for 2 more minutes.
And then – oh wow. The earthy notes just exploded. It tasted like the ground in a forest, just after it has rained a little. The twigs crack under your feet while you walk further into the woods. Pine needles are everywhere on the floor, and a cold wind is blowing your scarf away. This tea tasted like comforting silence. I loved it.
And that’s when I realised – I have overcome the barrier of salmon and rubber that might have prevented me from enjoying Lapsang Souchong. I did it.
The tin suggests mixing some of it into other black teas to add aroma; I think I’ll try this in the future, out of curiosity.
Tl;dr: I’m OBSESSED.
Flavors: Herbaceous, Pine, Smoke, Wet Earth
Another floral share from Crowkettle via Sil! Thanks, you two! :D
However, rose is not a favourite of mine. But, I figured I’d try it anyhow. It’s actually not too crazy on the florals, given that it’s a rose tea. Or maybe age has tamed it somewhat. Either way, it was drinkable, with a nice balance of black base and rose. Planning on pawning off the final cup on my mom, though.
It appears this was likely from VariaTEA, so thank you!
I drank it this morning; found it to basically be a decent bagged black. I was pretty good on the infusion time, and didn’t find it terribly astringent, though assams are not generally my black of choice as I don’t care for the flavour profile. It had some strength, and flavour, but lacked in the chocolate/raisin/delicious black tea notes. Kinda stoked to have found a few of these teabags though; I may stash them somewhere useful in the event that I have a guest who wants “normal tea”, because I of course do not stock Red Rose or anything like that, and who wants to waste good Chinese blacks on such people? Haha.
So, when I opened up the teabag wrapper, this smelled horrible and I instantly because like ten times more hesitant to brew it up than I was in the first place. However, it’s actually super mild in terms of flavour and none of that rank, overly spicy and strongly salty/umami tomato aroma is really coming through in the taste. Like, it’s a bit tomato-y and I can feel the presence of some spices in the blend on the back of my tongue and throat – but it’s almost bland!? I can’t believe it, but I’m actually finding myself craving MORE Bloody Mary flavour – which is just insane to me because I hate tomato juice/the taste of Bloody Marys…
Also; I’ve always wondered when companies come up with teas like this: do they actually expect the average consumer to like the taste profile!? Or is it purely for the novelty factor? I definitely think it’s a mix of both in most cases, but I’d be curious to see exactly what the “percentage split” is for most companies…
EDIT: Ok, I can taste everything a little more strongly as it cools – but it’s still a good balance of flavours!
Man, this was a nice tea! I feel like this is sort of what DT was trying to achieve with “Strawberry Shake” (the green blend from 2017) but failed to knock out of the water. I mean, this tea literally tasted like a damn strawberry milkshake! Rich, creamy and sweet. Vanilla notes too, which add to the whole “icecream” vibe.
So this was a sachet – it was at least filled with loose leaf and just repackaged in sachet form, but I definitely don’t love the sachets since you’re still losing that control of being able to measure out your own tea…
This was surprisingly good though; I didn’t think that the violet would actually come through in the flavour but it was actually quite strong. It’s weird because it’s definitely distinctly floral, but there’s also a sort of tangyness to it too? Maybe tang isn’t quite the right word – but this is actually the third violet tea I’ve had in January and they ALL had this sort of note/tinge to them alongside that floral element so whatever it is it’s definitely consistent…
I’m not sure yet whether I actually like the taste of violet in my teas or not…
Chocolate was tasty; very fatty and creamy like a good, higher quality milk chocolate. Had that sort of “lushness” in flavour of melted chocolate too. I think that’s a flavour that’s hard to not enjoy. Even as a person not SUPER into chocolate teas, I found myself swooning at how well it was conveyed in the cup. Plus, no weird oilyness to the mouthfeel!
Still chipping away at this sampler. Haven’t had a pure darjeeling in a long time.
This is brews up a little darker than expected. I’m getting notes of peppers, grass stems, toast, and muscatel. Even at three minutes, it’s pleasantly bitter. Pretty standard stuff for this kind of tea, I guess. And this tea company, really. Why are all their teas so heavy-handed?? I’m scared to try the lapsang now!
Anyway, this is another one that’s mediocre but has nothing wrong with it. I’m just really partial to Chinese black teas instead.
EDIT: And as I’ve come to expect from this company — the caffeine in this is out of control, too.
Flavors: Bell Pepper, Dark Bittersweet, Green, Muscatel, Plant Stems, Toast, Toasted
It’s Friday! Got a four day weekend coming up and I’m counting it down.
I steeped this one cautiously after drinking the Assam. I had a feeling this one would be very strong, too. Judging by how dark red it came out, I believe my short steep time was wise. It has an aroma that reminds me almost of a darjeeling. That sort of fresh, green hay scent.
The flavor is crisp and toasty, but features a less than desirable sort of vegetal note. Not really the clean black tea experience I was hoping for. Not too bitter, but it could get that way quickly if left to steep longer. There’s really not that much to say about this one. It’s a middle of the road black. Meh.
Flavors: Hay, Toasted, Vegetal
I get what they were going for here. The clove and orange is very reminiscent of wine mulled for the holiday with a little bit of cinnamon to round out the edges. That part is all fine, but the hibiscus is notched up several levels too many. I get that it adds a tartness which rounds out the flavors of many fruit, but in moderation. Each sip starts off well enough with a warming flavor, then as it reaches the back of my tongue the hib dominates the sip and from the end of the sip to the finish is an alkaline taste that grows to an ashy flavor that lingers. From the moment the tea bag hit the water and the clear bloomed to pink, I feared this tea may be a loss. It feels like there is a lot of potential, but a lot to work on here. Until then… NOPE.
Advent Day 24
I can smell oranges when the tea is dry. Once steeped I get the aroma of a black base (maybe Ceylon?) and a warm mix of spices on the sip. Clove dominates and blends well with the orange, a slight smokiness is in the finish. Adding cream kind of dulls it all, which is a shame. I’m not sure how I feel about this tea. Do I like it only in comparison with how dismal many of the other advent teas were or do I like it on it’s own merit? Either way, it isn’t a spectacular enough tea that I would seek it out.
*edit: Looks like this is the Ruby Red Christmas Tea, not Christmas Tea. It doesn’t have it’s own entry here and it’s not interesting enough for me to put out the effort to make one.
Advent Day 17
This cup was fairly smooth when hot, but then I ran off to chase down a food dehydrator on Craigslist and when I got back this cup was (of course) cold. But it’s still enjoyable cold! It smells very sweet and buttery. The sip is buttery with a slight grassy tang on the finish. It’s good, just not my preferred type of tea being unflavored green.
Advent Day 11
Tastes like chamomile, but without the H and with a bee pollen strangeness to it.
Other than this tea being warm on a night I was drinking it out in the cold, it was utterly forgettable. I’m not familiar with the taste of bee pollen and what I picked out in the tea as bee pollen just tasted strange. I could only detect it in the start of the cup, then the camomile taste took over. I’d prefer Celestial Seasonings Honey Vanilla Chamomile to this tea any day!
Advent Day 10
Boring! I mean, this would be okay for a generic grocery store bagged chai, but for a loose leaf tea company it leaves a lot to be desired. The steeping instructions say 5m at boiling and I only did 4, but it already had a bitter tinge to it by then. Adding cream dulled that, but it lacks flavor and spice. It’s like chai set to a level 2 intensity with nothing outstanding or noticeable about it. There are some muddled spices that have merged into one dull flavor. If I wasn’t so thirsty I’d have dumped my cup, but I’d never buy this. I guess if my choices were this or hibiscus, I’d choose this chai, but I wouldn’t be happy about it. Glad it was only one bag that crossed my path!
Advent Day 8
This is nice… if you like licorice (or liquorice) and I do! I can smell the mint and verbena when I sip, but the licorice is what is most striking taste. I don’t think it’s super strong as far as licorice can go. The mint comes back a little at the end, but the verbena doesn’t really stand out. Could be that it’s blended so well I don’t notice it in this well balanced and pleasant cup.
Advent Day 6
This has a nice buttery feel to it! The mint is mild on the sip and comes out more in the finish, but it isn’t the star of the show there either. I would expect the mint to be sharper or stronger. Perhaps this is another instance of older tea? This is a pleasant tea, but it isn’t sweeping me off my feet.
Advent Day 5
This has a very floral scent to it! It is smooth on the sip with a tart tannic bite at the end of the sip and hints of rose in the finish. I’m not accustomed to darjeelings and it’s looking like I may have steeped this at too hot a temp. If so, it held up surprisingly well with only a little bitter bite. I’m not taken by this tea, but I’ll gladly finish the cup.