(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