Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What-Cha: China Fujian Tong Mu Wild Lapsang Souchong Black Tea, A Tea Review

I think I need to cut myself off from Minecraft, I swear it is all I have been doing the past couple days (well that and sorting my teas) butI can't stop! For years I wanted to play on PC (I am finally getting the hang of the controls, though I desperately need a new mouse) especially modded because vanilla is only fun to me as a creative builder. I actually really do not like building in survival, and not because of the resource grinding, but because I can't fly and if I mess up it is a pain to fix in survival, so when I want to do a build I just switch to creative. I love Minecraft, when I am sick or Fibro-flaring it makes me feel accomplished, which is great on days where my only other accomplishment is eating breakfast! I might not be able to walk much, but I can build a castle!

Today I am going to look at a tea from What-Cha, China Fujian Tong Mu Wild Lapsang Souchong Black Tea, man, I have not looked a Lapsang (aka Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong) in forever! I admit, I love the unsmoked version for gongfu-ing as much as I love a big smoky mug of the more familiar to the western world style (I use it in my Ravnican Caravan blend after all) but they are such different creatures in my mind. For some reason when given the choice between different Fujian hongchas usually I go after Bailin Gongfu, and neglect Lapsang, which is something I should rectify immediately. So, sniffing those leaves which are a solid medium, not massive curly things and not super tiny leaves, gave me a surprise, it smells a bit swampy. Like specifically a cypress bog, wet and woody...I had to cock an eyebrow because that was not what I was expecting. There are also notes of cocoa, honey, orange blossoms, vanilla bean, and a bit of dry wood, making this a complex and a little strange blend of notes, though not unpleasant, just peculiar.

Into the teapot the leaves go for their steeping, and the aroma of the wet leaves is intense! Strong notes of cocoa, yams, orange blossoms, lilies, honey, vanilla and a touch of mineral waft from their soggy goodness. That peculiar swampy note is totally gone once the leaves are wet, so if you are not a fan of dank cypress wood never fear it vanishes. The liquid smells like vanilla beans, orange blossoms, buttery white chocolate, and honey. It is immensely sweet, I am surprised by the strength of the vanilla note, it is like someone chopped a vanilla bean next to me.

Another surprise of this tea is its light color, from first to last steep it never gets a dark red color, more of an amber gold, but even though the color is light the taste was not. It starts very smooth and velvety, full in the mouth with a subtle thickness, not a hint of dryness to be found. The taste is immensely sweet, starting with strong notes of vanilla and orange blossoms, then transitioning to buttery white chocolate and a finish of yams and brown sugar. I was very happy that the aftertaste was vanilla, and boy does it linger!

The next steep is very similar but stronger, I was greeted with a very smooth and round mouthfeel that also filled my mouth with orange blossoms and vanilla goodness at the front. The blending of the vanilla and orange blossom really do give this tea an exotic flair, I don't think I have ever experienced a vanilla note so strong in a pure tea and I love it. Towards the end a new note shows up with the yams, a note of mineral reminding me a bit of a Qilan oolong, which is not really surprising since this tea is from the same region.

The third steep had another surprise for me (I now dub this tea surprise Lapsang) the starting notes are vanilla and orange blossom as before, but with a strong lily note making this a surprisingly floral tea. Again it kinda reminds me of a Qilan but without the roasting and all the oxidation. It also develops a subtle nuttiness this steep and the previous chocolate notes have all but vanished. The finish is yam and mineral with a lingering vanilla. I got several more steeps from this tea, I find a lot of Hongchas really reach their stride by steep two, but this one reached its flavor plateau at steep three, these notes were the ones that lingered the longest. I really enjoyed it and feel bad for neglecting this style tea.

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

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