A Nice Cup of Shut the Hell Up (Signature Blend) from Adagio Teas

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Adagio Teas

Product Description:

Very biting tea smoothed over with a caramel smile. Great to wake up to, especially if you are dropping the coffee habit. Great for the early morning attitude enhancement with the added benefit of enabling you to think beofre you speak. Shut the hell up and give it a try.

Created by: Travis Pelt

Taster’s Review:

As some of you may know, I’m not particularly fond of Lapsang Souchong so I generally avoid them whenever possible.  I find the strong, smoky character of a typical Lapsang Souchong to be rather off-putting.

However, I am slowly developing an appreciation for strong, smoky teas such as Lapsang Souchong, but, suffice to say that while I am usually willing to try a tea with Lapsang Souchong in it, it is not something I probably would want to try.

But that all went out the window when I saw the name of this signature blend from Adagio Teas (created by Travis Pelt).  I knew I had to try it!

And I really am glad I did – this is actually really good.  The tea is very strong – ROBUST!  But what makes this tea especially good to me is the balance of tastes.  It is a smoky tea, but it isn’t too smoky.  It is, in fact, one of the most thoughtful blends I have encountered – and by that I mean that the underlying caramel-y notes of the Lapsang Souchong are highlighted with the addition of the caramel flavored black tea.  The sweet, creamy notes of the caramel are enhanced by the malty notes of the Assam.

The three types of tea create a very harmonized and yet hefty blend!  It is a little chewy and has a nice bake-y taste.  It makes a perfect morning tea, but I am actually enjoying it later in the afternoon at the moment – it is the perfect accompaniment to Dulce de Leche cookies from the Girl Scouts!  YUM!

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Product Review: Lapsang Souchong Tea-Infused Chocolate Truffle from Arbor Teas

Where to Buy:  Arbor Teas

Company Description:

A rich, smoky combination of dark chocolate ganache and our smoked Lapsang Souchong Black Tea, square cut and dipped in dark chocolate.

Taster’s Review:

Editor’s Note:  This review represents part 1 of 6 reviews, one review for each of the six flavors in the truffle collection available from Arbor Teas

Oh yummy!  Is there anything more exciting than tea-infused chocolates?  As a foodie, I love it when two of my favorite edibles are paired together in one delectable item.  And as a tea enthusiast AND chocoholic, I simply cannot resist these Tea-Infused truffles from Arbor Teas.

The appearance of this truffle is truly luxurious.  Regal even!  It has a brush stroke of glittery edible gold leaf, which adds a bit of sparkle and elegance to this yummy truffle.

And as some of you are probably aware, I’m not particularly fond of Lapsang Souchong.  I am slowly acquiring a taste for this classic, but, still, it’s not my favorite tea.  So, this is the one chocolate truffle in the six about which I was the most skeptical.

But, it is truly amazing!  The smokiness that usually throws me off in a Lapsang Souchong tea tastes absolutely divine in this dark chocolate truffle.  The deep, dark caramel-y notes of the tea create a flavor that is euphoric!

If this chocolate is any indication of what lies ahead with the other five truffles – I am truly in for a treat!  This truffle is amazingly, SINFULLY delicious!

Jackee Muntz from Andrews and Dunham Damn Fine Tea

Tea Type: Black Tea

Where To Buy: Andrews and Dunham Damn Fine Tea

Product Description:

The middleweight dynamo, The English Wonder of West Midlands, has yet to be defeated in a morning bout. While it is known that he prefers to maintain a strict diet of milk and raw honey for up to three days before each contest, it may also be of interest to know that he has startled all manner of audience with his feats of manly engagement. Only last week he delighted onlookers in Wollaston and Great Wyrley with his repeated submersing of both fists in boiling hot water, emerging entirely unscathed and without remark.

Andrews & Dunham insist that you soak an ample quantity of these black tea leaves from China in boiling water for no fewer than four minutes. Repeating this effort will result in further satisfaction.

Tasters Review:

Jackee Muntz – you are another Slightly Smoky Tea I find enjoyable! Jackee smells a bit smoky and tastes a little bit more smoky.

I do not smoke.  I am one of just two people where I work who do NOT smoke.  Therefore – when they take their ‘smoke-breaks’ I declare a “smoky-tea-break’ and from now on Jackee Muntz is one of the ones on my list to share a ‘smoky-tea-break’ with.

I did try a 2nd infusion on this one and found that the smokiness isn’t really there as much the 2nd time around but it’s a bit more sweet and caramel-like.

At the very least no one can say that Jackee isn’t unique!

Lapsang Souchong from Enjoying Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Enjoying Tea

Company Description:

Lapsang souchong is a special Chinese black tea. This tea produces a reddish hue liquor with a smooth crisp taste and a smoky aroma of pine wood fire. The lapsang souchong is considered to be heavy and overpowering by many.

The method of production for this tea is the following: The leaves are first withered over fires of pine wood. After pan-frying and rolling, they are presses into wooden barrels and covered with cloth to ferment until they give off a pleasant fragrance. The leaves are fired again and rolled into taut strips. Then they are placed in bamboo baskets and hung on wooden racks over smoking pine fires to dry and absorb the smoke flavor.

Taster’s Review:

I feel that I need to preface this review with this:  I am not a fan of Lapsang Souchong teas.  I am one of the “many” as depicted in the above review that find Lapsang Souchong tea to be “heavy and overpowering.”  The pine smoke aroma and taste is a bit overwhelming for my personal taste.   And because my first experience with a Lapsang Souchong was not a positive one, and since that time, I’ve steered myself clear of Lapsang Souchong teas.

That being said, I have learned since that first experience that not all teas are the same – including Lapsang Souchong teas! – and it’s not fair for me to now judge all Lapsang Souchong teas based on one bad experience years ago… I mean, who knows?  Perhaps my tastes have changed.  Perhaps that one Lapsang Souchong was not a good representation of all Lapsang Souchong teas.  I need to not allow myself to become confined based upon my opinions.  I need to experience things to make sure I truly dislike them… only then can I be sure.

So, summoning up all the courage I can muster, I brew myself a cup of this Lapsang Souchong from Enjoying Tea.  I awaken the tea leaves first, giving them a quick “rinse” (or pre-infusion) with boiling water for about 10 seconds before I steep the tea.

The flavor and aroma is quite smoky (no surprise there, this IS a Lapsang Souchong tea).  But I do think that the pre-rinse did help, because it’s not as smoky as I seem to remember Lapsang Souchong being.  I can smell the pine scent, it reminds me of the scent of the smoke when one burns pine needles.  It isn’t my favorite scent, but it isn’t unpleasant, either.

This is a very complex tea.  I can taste the smoky essence and the presence of the pine.  But beneath those rather heavy layers there is a nice (yes, I said NICE) and delicious (yes, delicious) caramel-y sweetness that complements the smoky and pine flavors well, and while it is still not my favorite tea, I can see what others love in this tea.  It is not as terrible as I once made it out to be.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t let your opinions you’ve formed years ago shape who you are now.  Be willing to try something new and out of your comfort zone, and you might find something rewarding when you do.   Trying this tea was way out of my own comfort zone but I am really very glad that I tried it because I got to taste that delicious caramel flavor to this tea and I now understand this tea just a little better.

Victorian Afternoon from Mark T. Wendell Tea Company

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Mark T. Wendell Tea Company

Company Description:

Created over 15 years ago and previously sold as a private label blend for the Elizabethan Club of Yale University, we are pleased to offer this original black tea blend to our customers as our Victorian Afternoon tea blend. This vibrant blend of Indian, Sri Lankan and Formosan teas is further complemented by a slightly smoky character. It yields a dark, reddish cup with a sparkling liquor when brewed.

Taster’s Review:

I am not a big fan of smoky teas.   I never have been.  A slight smoky note in a tea is an agreeable flavor to my palate, but when a tea possesses a very heavily smoked essence… I’m probably going to be hesitant (and that’s putting it mildly) to try it.

So when I open a package of tea and am greeted with a strong smoky aroma, I’m not really excited.  Again, that’s putting it mildly.

When I opened the package of this Victorian Afternoon from Mark T. Wendell… I was not really excited.  I could smell the smoke.  I contemplated putting it away and not giving it a fair try.

But I didn’t do that.

Instead, I measured the tea into my smart brewing device, and heated the water.  Before steeping it, I poured in some boiling water to give it a 15 second rinse, strained the tea, and then I began steeping.

“I’m going to try it before I decide I don’t like it,” I said to myself – kind of like a little pep talk.  After all, isn’t that what I tell my kids?  “How do you know you don’t like it if you’ve never even tried it?”

The brewed liquor still smells smoky even after the rinse, but it is not an overwhelming smoky note.

Not bad!  Not at all!  Yes, it’s smoky, and a bit stronger than that “slight smoky note” that I mentioned previously.  I actually LIKE the smoky note here.  There is a burnt sugar/caramel-like taste that follows the smoky flavor, and it’s really quite delicious.

This tea is strong, sweet, and smoky.  And, it’s good.

Wuyi Shan Lapsang Tea from Harney & Sons

Tea Type: Black Tea

Where To Buy: Harney & Sons

Product Description:
Mike visited this secret spot on his last trip to China. It was difficult to get in and no, he did not get to see the smoking process. This organic tea is much more subtle and elegant than other Lapsangs.

Tasters Review:

I recently received this from a TEA Friend of mine and enjoyed it VERY MUCH!  Wuyi Shan Lapsang Tea from Harney & Sons DOES smell interesting yet good! It’s a smoky-chewy-honey like smell.

And oddly…it tastes much like it smells!  Maybe not as smoky which is fine with me! There IS a bit of smoke there but there is so much else going on with this tea that the SMOKE isn’t isn’t the flavor that pushes to front of the over all taste!

It’s CHEWY and yummy….it seems I really REALLY like chewy teas! There is a honey-like taste to it and it has a sweeter finish.

I noticed as the tea had time to sit at room temperature – maybe 2 to 3 minutes – the honey tones seems to pop out more.

This is fairly complex and interesting and I like it very much!

Hu Kwa Tea from Mark T. Wendell

Leaf Type: Black Tea

Where To Buy: Mark T. Wendell

Product Description:

This is a fairly heavily smoked Lapsong Souchong that smells wonderful and brews up beautifully. Named for a Chinese Tea Merchant.

Tasters Review:

I have been looking for a Lapsong Souchong JUST LIKE THIS! I FINALLY FOUND IT! Yes, it’s true…I have had a strange relationship with Smoky Teas before now.  I confess the very first one was bagged from NUMI and I wasn’t impressed.  So much so that I ALMOST started saying I was not a Smoky Tea Fan.  I’m glad I continued to try additional smoky teas.  BUT…my bad luck didn’t stop there!  I must have tried a dozen smoky teas that I didn’t like or just found mediocre…nothing I was too excited about…UNTIL NOW…

I was looking for something with the strong smokey scent and was smoky to taste but didn’t have a funky after taste or too over the top while actually drinking it. I was also looking for one that didn’t taste like wood and was smooth. This Hu Kwa Tea from Mark T Wendell is it!  It just seems to have EVERYTHING I have been looking for in a smoky tea.

If you are one of those people who are the “more smoky tasting the better” this might not be strong enough in taste for you. At least the way I did it which was 1 to 1 and a half Tablespoons of loose leaf in 12-ounces of 190-200 degree water for 5 minutes.

Or if you are like me and searching for a smoky tea that works for your palate or haven’t had much luck with smoky teas in the past…try this one!  It just might be what you are searching for!

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