There was a big certainity back at home, when I lived with my parents - there was always plenty of black tea (Ceylon, Kenya, Assam,...). When one became thirsty, there was a big teapot filled with black tea and when it was finished, the person who drank the last cup automatically refilled the pot. This way, I became acquainted with a lot of black tea and I liked it a lot. However, there was a single can of something beastly, a weird, smoky substance I really loathed and ran away screaming when my father prepared it for himself - it was Lapsang Souchong.
Since then, I came to know real Lapsang Souchong with all its delicacy - it's actually my most favourite red tea by far. There is a huge difference between "real" LS and "commercial grade" (i.e., fake weirdness) - the former is subtly reinforced by good smokiness, while the latter is brutally dominate by a rather nasty smokiness. Obviously, the difference is huge.
It's not that easy to get a reasonable LS on "common" internet. I know of three sources - Thechineseteashop (whose LS was quite lovely, although lacking in some areas), Chawangshop (that's the one I'm writing about now) and Jingteashop (I hope to get some of that later).
The last tasting of this was a welcome opportunity for cleaning the dust off my bamboo porcelain set. I used to use the set a lot, but do not anymore:
The tea itself has quite small leaves (even though it's Wu Yi, its leaves are way smaller than, e.g., Da Hong Bao), brown-whiteish:
When I sip the tea for the first time, tears of happiness appear in my eyes (almost) - this is the Lapsang Souchong I know and appreciate.
First, there is the intense taste of dried fruit - apricots mostly, and lychee. In the first half of the main taste, it is nicely complemented by a taste which I'd describe as "coconut milk" - it is not that common outside LS, but I have met it in a couple of different red teas too. In the second half of the taste, a gentle, rich smoke appears and improves the soothing, warm taste even further, with further cocoa tones.
The "overall character" is quite similar to the LS from Thechineseteashop, but I remember distinctly how I missed more sweetness and fullness of body of the Thechineseteashop one. This LS by Chawangshop does not suffer from the problem - sweetness (dark sugar) and fullness are amply present.
Also, this tea brings something extra: orchid taste and lychee taste occasionally appear and bring further complexity to the drinking experience.
Another positive, which I found common to most of the Wuyi teas I tried, is a certain manifestation of their fiery essence. After swallowing, a feeling of "fire" appears in mouth. I know it probably does not sound pleasant, but I do like it. It's rather similar to tingling that some puerh brings.
I think that this is, for now, my LS no.1. Compared to the one from Thechineseteashop LS, I'd say it's strictly better and costs a third of their price. It's quite cheap at $8 per 100g.