It’s time to start cleaning out the backlog again. The sipdown of this tea came last night. I was a bit jittery due to an upcoming outing with my vocational rehabilitation clients and was having a lot of trouble getting settled for the evening. Naturally, I decided to add more caffeine to the fire. Even when I’m jittery, a nice gongfu session always seems to do the trick, and I end up out like a light when I should probably be bouncing off the walls and/or babbling incoherently in a corner somewhere. It took me awhile, but I finally fell asleep and woke up as ready to face the day as could possibly be expected given the circumstances.

My rambling should have made it obvious that I prepared this tea gongfu style. I followed Verdant’s guidelines for this one. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 4 seconds. I followed this initial infusion with 10 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 13 seconds, 16 seconds, 19 seconds, 22 seconds, 25 seconds, 28 seconds, 31 seconds, and 34 seconds. I probably could have gotten at least one or two more infusions out of this, but stopped where I did because it was late and I needed to get some sleep.

Prior to the rinse, the dry leaves gave off a mild smoky scent with hints of spice and chocolate. After the rinse, I noted strong aromas of chocolate, cinnamon, pine needles, and smoke. The first infusion produced a similarly intense nose. In the mouth, there were distinct impressions of chocolate, cinnamon, pine, smoke, and sage. There was also a slight sweetness left on the back of the throat. Subsequent infusions were similarly spicy, smoky, and savory, though they were also incredibly balanced. I noted the emergence of toast, honey, elderberry, and malt notes underneath the dominant flavors of sage, pine, smoke, and chocolate. Boy, Verdant’s taste profile was more or less dead on with this one. The later infusions were mild and smooth, though traces of chocolate, pine, toast, smoke, and cinnamon were still evident. There was also the expected Wuyi minerality that became more pronounced on these final infusions.

I’ve had nearly a full day to process my thoughts on this tea, and to be honest, I am glad I did not try to post this review last night. Immediately after finishing the session, I was a bit disappointed that this lapsang was not smokier. I was also a little disappointed that the flavors faded a little sooner than I would have preferred (I was kind of nitpicking though-I did manage to get eleven infusions out of 5 grams of this tea, and at least 7-8 of them were very good). In retrospect, however, this was a very sophisticated, balanced lapsang souchong that did not resort to over-the-top and/or artificial smokiness.

Flavors: Chocolate, Fruity, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Pine, Sage, Smoke, Toast

205 °F / 96 °C 5 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.



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