I spent last weekend in Melbourne, where I was lucky enough to be able to make a trip up to the Dandenongs (where it snowed!!) with my family for lunch, after which I stopped in at Tea Leaves to have a browse and possibly a purchase. I came away with a couple of different teas, a couple of tins to store them in, and a tea cosy (pictures to come soon!). The teas I bought were Lapsang Souchong, and a honey-flavoured sencha. I haven’t had the chance to give the sencha a proper go yet – the water at work would ruin it, I should think – but I brought in the Lapsang to give it a try.
Well. It’s powerful stuff, that’s all I can say. Lapsang is a black tea from Fukien province in China, and it is smoked over cypress and pine branches, which gives it an amazingly intense smoky scent and flavour which lingers in your throat and nose a bit after you’ve swallowed – not in an unpleasant way though. You get the taste of lovely fresh woodsmoke without the scratchy, choking feeling of breathing it in. It’s a little medicinal-smelling in the cup too – that would be from the pine branches, I suppose.
I haven’t been brewing the tea very strong, but even so it’s a bit overpowering and I’m finding I can only drink it in small quantities and quite slowly. At the moment I’m having some of it mixed with rooibos, which takes a bit off the edge of the flavour and rounds it out a little. Still, at present I feel that, for me at least, this is not a tea that drinks particularly well on its own. I did just finish off a cup while eating some bread and baba ghanoush (smoky eggplant dip), and that was excellent. So I think I will be saving this up mostly to drink with strong-flavoured foods.
A Google search suggests that Lapsang is a tea that people like to use in cooking quite a lot. Here are a few links to recipes which I found (and may try soon – especially the tacos and the truffles, they sound great!):
Lapsang Souchong Smoked Quail
Black Bean Soft Tacos
Luscious Lapsang Souchong Seitan
Lapsang Souchong Chocolate Sauce
Lapsang Souchong Chilli Truffles