Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Adagio
All at once exotic and mysterious and perhaps a little bit insane, with a lingering hint of smoke.
Learn more about this tea here.
This is one of Cara McGee’s Sherlock fandom blends, inspired by the character of (who else?) Sherlock Holmes. It’s a blend of Adagio’s Lapsang Souchong, Assam Melody, and Oriental Spice, all of which are black teas. The dry leaf smells reasonably strongly of smoke, with a hint of spice underlying. Exotic and enticing! I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium golden brown, so no additions this time.
I will freely admit to being more than a little scared of smoky teas, and particularly Lapsang Souchong. One early experience with a very strong Lapsang really, really put me off, and I’ve been very wary ever since. I’ve tried a few lightly smoked teas since and not been repelled, so I’m hoping that I can perhaps gradually build up an appreciation of smoky teas, given time. My forays into this territory are still fairly rare, though, and this will be the first in a while!
The first sip was taken with a little trepidation! I’m pleased to report, however, that this is palatably smoky. The initial flavour is, of course, the Lapsang Souchong. It’s quite a gentle smoke, though, reminiscent of a just-beginning barbecue rather than a raging bonfire. I think this is owed at least in part to the assam, however, which adds a sweet malt undertone that seems to temper the smokiness a little, rounding off what might otherwise have been quite harsh edges. There’s a spiciness in the midsip that’s very welcome, adding a third string to this particular bow. I can taste cinnamon, clove, and maybe a touch of ginger, although none are particularly strong or overpowering. Mostly, I’m struck by how well balanced this blend is between its three elements – smoke, sweet, and spice. Each flavour can be tasted individually, but they also work well as a cohesive whole to make this an interesting and enjoyable tea. It’s certainly frames each of its constituent parts in a new way! What surprised me most is how smooth this tea is. I’m really pleased that it didn’t turn out acrid or bitter, especially since I’ve not added any milk.
With regard to the fandom aspect of this tea, this blend seems like a fairly fitting tribute to Sherlock. It’s a dark and a little mysterious with its background of almost hidden spice (shrouded in smoke, perhaps?) It tastes like I imagine Sherlock’s coat might smell. This would make a good introduction to smoky teas for someone uncertain (or just plain scared, like me!), or for a fan of flavoured blacks looking to try something a little different. This one’s a winner in my book.