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Smoky Tea

Sleeping Dragon Tea/Adagio Teas

Gunpowder green tea was among the first green teas I’d tried as a kid. It’s a little nostalgic and is now my go-to drink when I’m having a rough day and just need a pick-me-up. It’s also probably responsible for my affinity for smoky-tasting teas and wines.

Sleeping Dragon picks up some of those notes from a good gunpowder tea, especially in the first cup. The first steep is rich, smoky, with subtle hints of fruit. Steep a second time and you get more of a fruity, lightly sweet green with a smoother, well-rounded flavor. (If you don’t like smoky tea, you can steep for 1.5 to 2 minutes and cut back on those flavors.)

This is a tea that’s fun to watch in a glass teapot—pellets slowly unfurl into long, beautiful green leaves that have a wonderful fragrance. If you’re not a fan of really grassy green teas, I highly recommend this one. It’s also a great intro to loose-leaf greens for friends who are new to green teas—it’s a very mild flavor that won’t send curious tea drinkers running the other way.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Adagio Teas

Description

Sleeping Dragon green tea is grown at about 3,000 feet in the mountainous Fujian province. The tightly rolled leaves and silvery fuzzy buds give this tea its signature shape and name. In the cup, it delivers a soft, fruity sweetness enfolded by a rich smokey note similar to a gunpowder, but more complex and crisp in the finish. Sleeping Dragon remains a great cup for a green tea novice or those who oppose the grassy character of some varieties.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Russian Caravan from Tea Queens. . . .

I usually reserve my smokier teas for cool or cold weather since I find them very comforting, but cloudy, rainy days spent gazing out the window qualify, too!

Tea Queens sells through consultants, and you can host a tea break or a tea party to learn about tea and to taste some of their offerings. If there is no consultant in your area, the website instructs you to call customer service, so I assume you can order directly from them.

This Russian Caravan is a blend of Assam, Keemun with lychee, and Lapsang Souchong. There are no steeping instructions on the website so I went with 200F and four minutes just to pamper the Assam a bit.

The resulting tea is so light I thought perhaps I had made a mistake, but I have another Lapsang blend that comes out a similar color.

This went very well with our breakfast of blueberry scones. The company sells scone mix, too, by the way! And teapot cookie cutters and colorful decorating sugars.

There is a touch of briskness from the Assam, and it is nicely smokey. I like smoke, and a few Russian Caravan blends have disappointed me by being a bit too tame, but this one was just right. I really don’t taste much lychee, even the cups I drank after the scone was long gone. I think mainly I pick up a general fruitiness from the the Assam and lychee together.

I have made a lot of new friends by having people over who want to learn about tea, where it is grown, how it is processed, how to prepare it, why to drink. I think the idea of hosting a party where an expert comes to conduct your own personal tea flight is marvelous! Especially since it gives you a discount on your tea, and real teaheads know how outrageous the tea budget can get!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Tea Queens
Description

A blend of Assam and Keemun with Chinese lychee tea imparts a wonderful fruitiness. Lapsang Souchong adds a gentle touch of smokiness to this one of a kind blend.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Bonfire from Adagio Teas

Adagio Teas might be known for the fandom-inspired blends submitted by their users, but the tea company also offers their own seasonal blends.  One of my favorite flavors they have created is a fall blend called Bonfire.

This blend is mainly comprised of honeybush herbal tea, which brings the perfect caramel, woodsy notes to start as a baseline.  If you are wary of red rooibos teas, don’t worry about this blend, the honeybush is much more gentle and less medicinal than the rooibos. The honeybush is paired with just a smidge of smoky black lapsang souchong.  There is little enough lapsang souchong to keep the caffeine level low, and to not overwhelm you with its bacon-like scent. Truly, the smokiness is relaxed and minimal, if you are on the fence, give it a try. Personally, I’ve grown to like smoky teas, so I add an extra scoop of lapsang souchong to the Bonfire loose leaf to really pump up the robustness.

What takes this blend to the next level are all the other herbs and additions.  Apple pieces add some juicy sweetness and their trademark fall flavor. Aniseed and cacao nibs add some dessert tones to make this brew feel like a treat.  Orange peels and cloves bring their wintry spice combination, and red peppercorns add a pop of color and just a hint of cracked pepper flavor.

This tea is delicious on its own, but also goes well with lemon and honey, or could be a tasty starting point for a hot toddy.  The blend is not available all year round, so I always make sure to stock up and make it last.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Honeybush and Black
Where to Buy: Adagio Teas

Description:

Crisp autumn nights call for warmth and comfort and little can better provide them than an autumn bonfire. Behold our bonfire blend: Honeybush hazelnut and cocoa nibs relax and ground you, while a spice blend of aniseed, cinnamon, clove and orange peel offer cozy comfort and zest. Apples and rose hips add soft sweetness while lapsang and red peppercorn offer hints of smoke and the flickering spark of heat. A perfect tea for fireside enjoyment or downtime dreaming.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Bonfire Toffee from Bird and Blend Tea Co.

Bonfire Toffee tea from Bird and Blend should be part of everyone’s fall and winter brewing. A full bodied black tea is sweetened with the brown sugar and butter notes of caramel and toffee. The blend stops from being too sweet by the addition of crisp apple and smoky lapsang souchong.

If you aren’t into smoky teas, give this one a try. The smoke is mostly in the scent of the brew, and gets lost beneath black tea and toffee tones in the taste.

This tea feels like taking a walk in the fall. The robust black tea is wrapped around you like a wool scarf, and you can smell the pleasant char of your neighbor’s wood stove on the air. Take a bite out of a fresh apple and follow it up with something sweet, like holiday caramel candy.

I had been curious about trying Bonfire Toffee for its blend of sweet and savory, and the tea does not disappoint. Brew up a cup for your next leaf-peeper trip, or your next winter bonfire.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Bird and Blend
Description:

Traveling tea merchants used to carry tea from east to west,all the way across Russia… well, their horses did anyway! It’s said the campfire smoke would infuse into the loose tea leaves at night creating smoked teas. Add some caramel, apple and toasted cinnamon and you get a spectacular Bonfire Night treat!

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Formosa Lapsang from Grey’s Tea

The other day I was in the mood for a tea that was different. . .a game changer . . .one that would shake up my taste buds and Formosa Lapsang fit that bill perfectly!

This particular tea is an oolong with that familiar smoky tone and flavor of a Lapsang black tea.  So you are getting the best of both worlds.  That gorgeous oolong setting with a smoky backdrop.  Talk about shaking up a flavor profile. This tea does just that.

First you are greeted with this aroma of pure smoke. This tea variety is not for the faint of heart.  (If you aren’t one that enjoys smoky teas, than this tea may not be your cuppa, but if you are, I highly encourage you to check this tea out.  ) The flavor profiles are bold with

With each sip, you are greeted with that smoky rich flavor that gives both your taste buds a high five right along with your sense of smell.  Bold, yet rich and smooth.  The smoky notes combined with that familiar oolong flavor that I have come to really enjoy.   Towards the end of the sip you start to get this earthy finish that completes the sip while that smoky tone does start to come back in a subtle aftertaste.

I can’t say that this tea would be an everyday drinking sort of tea, but for a switch on what I normally drink -which is green or white teas- this Formosa Lapsang was a very welcomed palette cleanser and one that reminded me of how tasty smoky teas are.  Usually I do shy away from them, but I feel myself starting to open up to those varieties more.

All in all, a tea variety that absolutely delivers on flavor, quality, and uniqueness.  this tea will be one that I will remember for some time to come!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Oolong
Where to Buy:  Grey’s Tea
Description
  • Formosa Lapsang: a most unusual Lapsang tea from Formosa (Taiwan).
  • It combines the earthy characteristics of Formosa’s oolongs with the pinewood aromas of Fujian Lapsang Souchongs.
  • This aromatic tea is smoked uniquely over a combination of oak and pinewood.
  • The typically coarse yet deep brown leaf produces a wonderfully balanced and subtly smoky tea.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!