Taiwanese Lapsang Souchong Black from Butiki

Taiwanese Lapsang SouchongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Butiki (However it’s no longer for sale)

Tea Description:

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.

Taster’s Review:

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.

1991 Da Ye Aged Oolong From Butiki Teas

DaYeAgedOolongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Aged Oolong

Where to Buy: Butiki Teas (However it is no longer for sale)

Tea Description:

Tea Description: Our 1991 Da Ye Aged Oolong is a 22 year old spring harvested tea from Nantou, Taiwan. This rare tea is oxidized between 20-30% and charcoal roasted. Da Ye Oolong is uncommon today since this tea has a lower production volume. Our 1991 Da Ye Aged Oolong is sweeter and creamier than our 2003 Reserve Four Season Oolong. Notes of roasted chestnut, bark, fresh butter, honey suckle, and cinnamon can be detected. Due to the age of this tea, some mineral notes may also be detected. This tea has a silky mouth feel and is sweet and buttery.

Learn more about this tea on Steepster.

Taster’s Review:

This isn’t a new Butiki blend (really there aren’t any new Butiki blends anymore since the owner’s retirement and the store closed); but it is new to me. I’ve been curious about it for a long time, but I think that without Butiki closing I would have been stuck in a permanent state of “window shopping”, which is a shame because I definitely would have been missing out.

So, this tea is actually older than I am by four years! There’s something inheritantly fascinating about that, and it’s hard to wrap my head around it. Many reviews I’ve seen for this tea feature the reviewer remarking “where they were” or “what they were doing” back in 1991, but I wasn’t doing anything! My parents weren’t even married in 1991.

Lately I’ve been trying to explore straight oolongs a little more thoroughly so it’s appropriate I’m trying this one. I’ve enjoyed the straight oolong I’ve had, especially the darker/roastier ones, but my exposure has been relatively limited and it’s time to change that. The dry leaf for this one already smells quite different than oolong I’m familiar with; it has a really distinct dill smell to it! And then nuttier notes emerge as well. It’s the dill that gets me though; I’ve never heard of dill being a present flavour notes in a straight oolong before – maybe a green tea though that’s probably a bit of a stretch too. I’m already learning things!

Wow; this is surprisingly more complex than I was expecting. Even upon my first few initial sips I was registering such a large variety of flavours it was almost a little overwhelming; they all tie in quite well to one another though. It seems like the general backdrop of flavours is a combination of soaked/damp wood and moss. Very earthy, and very natural. On top of the general taste, which carries throughout the sip, was a lovely arrangement of roasty and nutty flavours, with a very slight and enjoyable dryness. The combination of all of these things is coming together to remind me of petrichor.

For those who don’t know; petrichor is the smell of rain on dry earth. It’s my absolute favourite smell in the world and I’ve been looking for a tea that accurately conveys it for as long as I can remember; this does the job better than anything else I’ve tried. Lastly, this tea finishes with a sweet dill note that tickles at back of my throat. I’m liking how the dill plays into all of this by adding a bit of a different feeling as well as a unique taste!

My second steep was good too; many of the flavours I observed with the first cup were still there but in different levels. I found the wood flavour was less pronounced as well as the dry nuttiness, but the moss was a little more accentuated. The dill was also a lot more strong; instead of just tasting it in the finish I was tasting it in the body of the sip as well. I also registered a very subtle floral note and some richer mineral notes.

Unfortunately because of a prior commitment in the day I didn’t have time to continue with additional steeps; but I’d love to find a day to dedicate solely to this tea because it’s strange, and wonderful and very complex and I’m so smitten with it!

It’ll be hard to get your hands on this tea now; but if you find yourself with the chance to try it I definitely recommend doing so!

Chocolate Chili Truffle Black Tea from Butiki Teas

Chocolate Chili TruffleTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Butiki Teas

Tea Description:

Our Chocolate Chili Truffle pairs creamy chocolate with sweet cinnamon, lingering honey notes, and a dash of heat that leaves a gentle warming feel. The spice level is mild to moderate depending on how the tea is prepared. We highly recommend adding some sugar for a more intense chocolaty treat that is perfect for cold winter nights.

Read more about this tea on Steepster.

Taster’s Review:

OK, so in my last review of a tea from Butiki, I mentioned that Butiki recently announced that they were closing up shop.  Over the course of the last couple of months, Butiki has been creating new blends like crazy in an effort to use up the inventory.  This is one of the teas that was created recently and I needed to try it!  It just sounded too tasty – and knowing how brilliant Stacy from Butiki Teas is when it comes to blending teas, I was confident that this tea would deliver the flavors promised.

So, even though they are closing up shop – I had to place at least one more order with them to try some of the latest creations.

And I’m really glad I did.  This tea is really good!

I brewed this in my Breville tea maker, adding 2 bamboo scoops of tea to the basket and 500ml of water to the jug.  Then I steeped the tea for 2 1/2 minutes in boiling water.  After the tea had cooled slightly, I took a sip or two of the tea without any additives and I decided that I wanted to taste more chocolate.  So I added about half a teaspoon to my 16 ounce mug of tea.  This brought out the chocolate-y notes without overwhelming the cup with sweetness.

There is a really enjoyable combination of flavors between the chocolate, the cinnamon and the chili pepper, along with the natural honey tones of the Sansia black tea base.  There is a really awesome balance of spicy-hot and sweet.

It’s spicy!  I’m feeling a warm burn in the back of my throat and on my lips.  The chili is hot and the cinnamon adds a warm spice and these two complement each other to bring out the heat.

And it’s sweet!  The Sansia black tea has some really remarkable honey tones.  The first time I tasted this tea, I thought maybe someone had drizzled some honey into my mug to see if I’d notice.  But no, the honey is a natural flavor of the tea and it’s delightful.

This sweetness, together with the sweet chocolate-y notes help to tone down the spice just enough so that I’m experiencing that aforementioned “warm burn” without feeling the need to rush to the kitchen to find something to extinguish the fire.  It’s burning, but it’s a gentle, pleasant burning sensation that warms me from the inside out.

A really good tea.  I don’t know if there will be any more of this blend when this review is published, but if there is – I strongly recommend going here and getting yourself some!

Rwanda Rukeri from Butiki Teas

Rwanda Rukeri from Butiki Teas
Rwanda Rukeri from Butiki Teas

Tea Information:

Leaf Type: Green

Where to Buy: Butiki Teas  

Tea Description:

Rwanda Rukeri is an Orange Pekoe grade green tea that originates from a cooperative of small farms in Rwanda. This tea is grown at an altitude of 5,900 feet above sea level. The thin forest green leaves unfurl during steeping to produce a vibrant lime-colored liquor. This unique tea has a juicy mouth feel with notes of artichoke and seaweed. Rwanda Rukeri is an assertive tea that produces a pleasant astringency.

Ingredients: Green Tea

Recommended Brew Time: 2 minutes
Recommended Amount: 1 level teaspoon of tea for 8oz of water
Recommended Temperature: 180 F

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I love sweet and salty snacks, Rwanda Rukeri from Butiki Teas satisfies both cravings for me. Even though I have had this sample hanging around for quite some time, and I never should have neglected it, the taste is so fresh that I can only imagine how amazing it was when I first got it!

Rwanda Rukeri is green, vegetal, grassy, and sweet, with lingering notes of freshness that do remind me of seaweed but more so ocean mist. If you have ever visited the coast and appreciate nature the way that I do, there is a smell, a feeling, an aura, and energy about being near the ocean. That is the way this tea makes me feel.

I do pick up the artichoke note which is surprising to me as I have only had artichoke made properly a handful of times. Artichokes intimidate me so beyond some canned artichoke in a salad or dip here or there I have limited experience, as I can’t cook (or is it bake?) artichoke myself.

This tea is better when you go gong fu style because it truly evolves releasing more flavors the more you steep it! Buttery notes come forward in later steepings. I do not recommend this tea if you are wanting to make something fast and run out the door because you will miss out on a really wonderful experience. It also needs to be steeped properly or you could end up with a bitter or overly astringent cup. This is a delicate tea that needs to be treated with respect but it will give you that back and so much more.

Obviously this is not the first tea I reach for in the morning while I still have the duhs but in the afternoon or early evening I love it. Its a tea to relax with, a tea to contemplate, a tea to relish in.