Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Butiki (However it’s no longer for sale)
Our Taiwanese Lapsang Souchong originates from Taipei County in Taiwan and is grown at approximately 1,300 feet above sea level. While it isn’t nearly as common today, Taiwan has a long tradition of smoking teas. Local evergreen wood is utilized to smoke this Assam varietal, which results in a sweet yet smoky flavor. Smoked bacon, oak, and dark chocolate notes are prominent, while licorice notes are more subtle. This Lapsang Souchong is smoky without being overwhelming and finishes sweet. Our Taiwanese Lapsang Souchong is full-bodied, smooth, and complex.
Learn more about this tea on Steepster.
Firstly I definitely would not call myself a fan of Lapsang Souchong; I own one flavoured/mixed blend that uses it as an ingredient that I find pretty good but every other time I’ve had it I’ve personally found the smoke/ash tones present to be rather harsh and unpleasant. So, I honestly still can’t believe that I actually requested a Lapsang sample; but it all boils down to seeing a Steepster review that mentioned this being sweeter and softer than your typical LS; and so my curiousity was peaked, and I had to try it afterall.
The dry leaf has, like one should expect from Lapsang, a strong smell that’s definitely very smokey but there are also strong notes of leather and wood as well that round it out and make it seem a little more interesting and less intimidating. It seems rather “manly” to me, despite a general smooth – dare I say “silky”, quality. I get the impression there’ll be no “grit” here. Honestly the leaf didn’t smell as offensive as I was anticipating! Already I’m very impressed and hopefull.
I cut my steep time a little short; I was worried about the tea getting too strong. After a few very trepedatious sips I started to take larger ones, and before I knew it I was practically slurping it back! This is alarmingly delicious! Like I observed with the dry leaf this is rather smokey, though not as much as the dry leaf will have you believe. There’s also a leather-like quality to it and the taste of oak – just like is mentioned in the tea’s description and which I also observed from the smell.
Most interestingly, I’m also getting a rather jammy quality that makes the whole cup softer, though still full in flavour, and more agreeable. Plus, it levels out the ratio of sweet and savory flavours in the blend which makes it feel more well rounded and balanced. I would describe the jam note as very stonefruit-y, leaning towards black cherries perhaps? This is the first Lapsang I’ve ever had that hasn’t assaulted me with harsh notes of tabacco or ash, essentially making me feel like I’ve just licked an ashtray. On that point alone I call this a success!
Overall this is just a very agreeable tea; it perfectly conveys what Lapsang teas are all about – the smokiness of it, while maintaining a softness and uniqueness. It’s very sad Butiki is closed because, while I previously thought it unthinkable I’d ever want to stock a straight Lapsang tea, this is one I could see myself drinking often and would want around!
I recommend this one to people experienced with Lapsang who want to try something just a little different, but I especially recommend it to Lapsang virgins or people who, like me, have been turned off by the intensity of other Lapsang Souchong teas they’ve tried! This one is, dare I say it, perfect.