Mark T. WendellEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
Has a very distinct tobacco smell very much like a cheroot cigar. But do not think that this will be a harsh or overactive flavor, the tea is a smooth one with an appealing sweetness as well as a wood aroma.
Flavors: Smoke, Smooth, Tobacco, Wood
The tea has a gorgeous deep coppery orange color that you could spend a great deal of time admiring in its own right. Along with a beautiful color comes a truly sweet smell loaded with pine smoke. The taste is light and elegant, sweet and with balanced smoky nuances that linger delicately. I found the cup to be really surprising, and quite unlike other Lapsangs I’ve been able to try. Of several I’ve tried, this one is remarkable to me in that the smoky scent and flavor is pervasive, to be sure, but is wonderfully balanced and tasteful. The taste of smokiness doesn’t linger in the mouth as a cloudy, campfire sort of residue but rather as a bright and piney, fresh crispness. The cup has a fine, surprising elegance and lightness to it that is most enjoyable and eyebrow raising considering the power that a smoke flavor can sometimes have to make a cup heavy. This cup is truly light. That a Lapsang could come across as both full of its hallmark flavor as well as delicate and elegant seemed a marvelous achievement to me.
In my experimentations with leaf proportions, I found that a scant to precise teaspoon yielded the best results for my tastes. A slightly higher amount of leaf, roughly 1.5 teaspoons per 8 ounces, definitely brought to light a sturdier cup. While still excellent in taste, the lesser amount of leaf allows a just perfect natural sweetness to shine through along with the smoky flavors. The sturdier cup exhibited interesting sour notes rather than notably sweet ones. I thought the lesser leaf steeping would pair well with savory items and the stronger cup seemed to request a sweeter pairing.
A second infusion is well worth the time. I found the tea quite forgiving and never prone to bitterness in terms of either the first or the second infusion.
Flavors: Almond, Apple
I don’t usually comment on a tea unless I am completely responsible for the brewing process. That is, I personally break the seal on a new package, scoop out a precise measurement of leaves, activate the exact time and temperature settings, and witness the entire steeping process myself. However, my wife and I had such a nice experience today at the French Market Cafe Tea Room in Cornelius, North Carolina, that I am compelled to break my rule and talk about this Mark T. Wendell Tea Company Hu-Kwa Lapsong Souchong tea that I tried. Besides, the very generous and personable proprietor, Kathy Montbleau, allowed me to observe most of the preparation by bringing the infuser pot to my table immediately after boiling.
Kathy permitted me to smell the unbrewed leaves in their package before the setup began. The dark brown leaves had a strong, but pleasant, smoky aroma. There also was a light sweetness to the smell that I hadn’t experienced before in smoky teas.
I watched the steeping brew become a dark liquor for five minutes. The odor was pleasingly smoky and sweet. The color was similar to dark molasses with a golden aura around the sides of my cup, like a dark sunrise.
The flavor was nothing short of splendid. It was marvelously smoky, sweet, and smooth. Kathy brought my wife and I an ample pot to share. Fortunately, my wife does not care for smoky teas so I was able to enjoy it all to the last drop. Even the aftertaste was stunningly mild and gentle. Astringency was completly nonexistent.
This just might be the BEST smoky tea I’ve ever had. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the tea, I GREATLY RECOMMEND Kathy who is a wonderful tearoom owner with a FANTASTIC personality and ENORMOUS generosity (she very kindly let me sample the tea without charge and gave me a large portion of unbrewed leaves to take home with me), and I PROFOUNDLY RECOMMEND the French Market Cafe Tea Room as an extremely friendly and elegant little shop to sip fine teas, munch on tasty biscuits, and let the stress of your work week blissfully slip away.
Flavors: Smoked, Smooth, Sweet
As some may be aware, I love Moroccan mint green teas, but I tend to be a huge stickler for traditional recipes. I do not want Mao Feng, peppermint, lemon myrtle, or anything else in there. Just give me a blend of Chinese gunpowder green tea and spearmint leaves. I’ll take it from there, thank you very much. When I saw this blend on the Mark T. Wendell website, I knew I had to try it. I assumed it would be right up my alley, but it really wasn’t. I just wasn’t blown away by it.
I prepared this blend two ways. First, I tried a single infusion. I steeped approximately 1 teaspoon of loose material in approximately 8 ounces of 180 F water for 3 minutes. After I logged the results, I decided to try a two step infusion. I steeped the same amount of loose leaf material in the same amount of 180 F water for two minutes and then conducted a second and final 3 minute infusion.
Prior to infusion, the dry leaf blend predictably emitted a powerful spearmint aroma underscored by a hint of grassiness from the gunpowder green tea. In the mouth, I found a powerful spearmint flavor that was underscored by faint notes of grass, lemon, and straw. The green tea did not seem to contribute much in the way of aroma or flavor.
For the two step infusion process, I noted more of the same on the nose prior to and immediately after infusion. The 2 minute infusion yielded a very mild, minty liquor with a touch of creaminess that I did not note in the single infusion. Unfortunately, the green tea seemed to be all but entirely missing in action. The 3 minute follow-up infusion allowed the green tea to come out a little more. I could pick up slight notes of grass, lemon, and straw coupled with what I thought were touches of hay and grilled vegetables, but unfortunately everything was still a little too faint for my liking.
Overall, this blend was pretty meh. While the spearmint aromas and flavors were nice and strong, they were overpowering. The green tea presence was so mild that it could not provide enough balance. I suppose that if you are the sort of person who likes a really sweet, minty Moroccan mint green tea, then this may very well be up your alley, but if you like a little more balance and a heavier green tea presence, then this likely won’t do as much for you.
Flavors: Cream, Grass, Hay, Spearmint, Straw, Vegetal
Since discovering quality tea this assam has been the real eye-opener. So to speak.
This has become my favorite tea and I Iike it more the more of it I drink. I brew to Wendell’s instructions and it comes out clear and red. I don’t detect any bitterness or astringency. It’s very smooth and very drinkable. When I finish my 8 oz tin I’m going to order a pound of this.
While this is obviously a high quality tea, I’m not sure it’s my cup of tea, so to speak. The aroma of the leaves is smokey, but not overpowering. I brewed 5 minutes. It came out very clear, slightly dark red. It was smokey, but underneath you could tell there was high quality tea. I’ve never tasted anything like this before, it’s my first lapsang suochong.
My mother received this as a gift from one of her co-workers. She is more of a coffee fiend, but does like a nice hot cup of black Lipton tea every so often. These little balls of desiccated flower petals that expand to double their size are a bit too much for her. She passed it along to me knowing that I am willing to give anything a try.
Smell: In the tin it smells vegetal. You definitely know this is a plant!
Taste: Less than what I expected. Although white teas are light on flavor, I truly didn’t expect it to be almost absent. I can imagine pairing this with fruit like pineapple or strawberry, but for the price tag I shouldn’t have to go through all that effort.
It IS really pretty when it’s allowed to steep in a clear glass – it almost looks like pink water lilies (if they weren’t pink, but dead instead).
Overall it is visually appealing and the aroma is nice, but on taste alone this tea isn’t worth the cost.
This tea is a famous staple at events hosted at my work, often served with lemon. I prefer my tea without sugar or lemon, generally, though the citrus is nice with this tea. It is definitely smokey, but less of the bacon-like smoke some brands of lapsang souchong seem to have, this is gentler and more woody. The smoke flavor is not as noticeable in the scent of the leaves or the tea, but comes through the most when drinking. There is a traditional black tea feel and taste to this, not bitter but full-feeling and with a sort of rich tanin flavor and texture. Some kind of spicy, almost cinnamon-like, secondary note comes in the aftertaste which really adds a coziness to the forward smoke flavors. I thought I had heard somewhere that this might be close to the kind of tea drank in Boston historically, but I could be making that up. Overall a bold cup with just the right amount of smoke. It’s famous around here for a reason!
Flavors: Cinnamon, Smoke, Tannin, Wood