pátek 16. listopadu 2012

2012 Waishan Xiaozhong (Lapsang Souchong)

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. 

3 komentáře:

  1. also my favourite red tea! Thanks for the review.

    I would be very interested in your opinion of the jingteashop one (note they also have non smoked version now). If you could get a hold of the 2009 or 2010 I would be even more curious of your opinion. Last time I tried 2010 it seemed like in a couple years it would be very good with a few more years age.

  2. Thanks for this review - it gives me a bit more confidence to try my own stash of Lapsang Souchong! I love your bamboo porcelain tea set and your photography. Am following your blog! :)

  3. Anonymous: Hi, I'm afraid I won't be able to get the earlier LSs from jingteashop. Actually, it's generally difficult to get anything directly from Jingteashop in the Czech Republic - Longfeng, a local vendor has an exclusive agreement so you can buy stuff from Jingteashop only through him. First, Longfeng owner does not like me and I doubt he would sell me anything, second, he tends to add a lot to the price so I am not really interested in buying from him either.

    It's difficult with the more smoky LS that the smoke may go away and leave a great tea underneath... or it may have been a crappy tea, smoked to resemble LS, but without the actual quality. I'm afraid the latter is more frequent case.

    The Teaist: Glad you like it here :) Well, if your Lapsang is good, then try it by all means. I like how soothing it can be. On the other hand, the commercial sort (i.e., pure smoke) can be quite disgusting.

    All the best!