Most of the teas I drink are relatively light and floral. However, sometimes I need something with a bit (ok a lot) more oomph. That’s where a good old Lapsang Souchong comes in, and one of my favourites is from the classic English tea house, Taylors of Harrogate.
This is not a tea for the indecisive, by any means. It’s strong, it’s potent, and it’s rather an acquired taste. Lapsang Souchong is a black Chinese tea that gets a very distinctive character from being smoked in bamboo baskets after the drying process. It imparts a distinctly toasted smell and taste to the tea, almost reminiscent of a smoked fish or cheese. My mother refers to it as “that stinky tea,” and while I do love it I can see where she’s coming from. To me, it smells like woodsmoke and evokes a campfire. It reminds me of summers spent at the cottage, which may be why I find it so comforting.
The tea is quite “dusty”, little charred bits flaking off the leaves, and it tends to sneak through the strainer, leaving a bit of residue in the cup. It’s got a lot of personality, and can be sort of overwhelming consumed straight, especially since it continues to steep due to the residue. I prefer to soften it with a bit of milk or cream and sometimes some sugar, depending on my mood. It’s a great tea for warming up on a cold, damp winter day, or pairing with a big hearty breakfast.