Tea Time – Taylors of Harrogate Lapsang Souchong

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.

Lapsang Souchong at Taylors of Harrogate

Tea Time – Cha Guan Premium Jasmine Dragon Pearl

Cha Guan is a beautiful shop and tea room in the Monkland Village area of Montreal. The atmosphere is serene and beautiful, and the teas are sumptuous and delicious. This store is small, but a complete gem. All the teas I smelled were rich, complex, and deliciously perfumed. Their selection of teapots, gaiwan, and normal cups were beautiful works of art, and the store itself has a wonderful relaxing atmosphere. It’s definitely worth a trip if you appreciate traditional Chinese teas and are in the area.

I caved in and bought some of their Premium Jasmine Dragon Pearl green tea after falling in love with the smell of it in the shop. The Dragon Pearl tea is small, tightly-wrapped balls, or “pearls” of young green tea leaves. The smell is clean, soft, and slightly flowery without being overpowering. It’s a wonderful relaxing tea to have with dinner or unwinding in the evening.

The flavour is subtle and smooth. If brewed properly (Cha Guan will give you specific brewing and steeping instructions for each tea when you purchase it), it has no trace of bitterness that some green teas can have, and no soapy feel from the flowers. It’s definitely a tea best enjoyed with no additions, but a tiny bit of honey might complement it well if you absolutely need a touch of sweetness.

You can purchase it online here: Cha Guan Online Tea Shop, and please rest assured I receive no remuneration nor am I affiliated with this shop (or any other tea I may review in the future). I am just sharing things I enjoy with you all.

Tea Time – Celadon teacup and pot

With so many selections of teas, sometimes not everyone in the house can agree on what to drink. Unfortunately, most of our teas are loose leaf, which can turn making a single cup into a bit of a hassle. Thankfully, we found an ideal solution!

There is a chain of stores called Le Rouet around the area where I live. They sell kitchen and home decor items, and are invariably always having some sort of sale. A while back I wandered in there and stumbled across these gorgeous little sets of a large mug and single-serving teapot that fits into the top of the mug. We got a couple, but the one I’ve claimed for myself was this beautiful shiny celadon green with ume (plum) blossoms across it.

It’s a good, solid set and I love the way it feels in my hands. The teapot is also excellent for keeping the tea warm – when I’m not drinking, I can put the pot back into the cup and it prevents heat from escaping.

Tea Time! A new feature

I’ve decided to add a new feature to this blog – I hope you enjoy it! In my mind, tea culture and kimono culture are entwined quite strongly together, so I figured that I could share my love of tea and related items in here on occasion. While I have not ever studied traditional Japanese tea ceremony but I find the preparation and consumption of teas an enjoyable, aesthetic, and relaxing experience.

In this new feature I will be sharing my favourite teapots, teacups, and of course teas. For my first entry, I thought I would show you what is probably my favourite teacup currently in my possession, one that came to me through the kindness of Naomi. If you know me, you know my fondness and fascination for all things cephalopod. When I saw this teacup with its textured tentacle handle and beautiful blue hand-painting, I yearned for it. I coveted it. I neeeeeeded it. Thankfully, Naomi agreed, and managed to procure one and bundle it up in enough bubblewrap to protect it on a cross-continental journey.

It’s even prettier and more amazing in person than I’d anticipated. It’s much larger, it holds a very comforting and hearty serving of tea, coffee, or cocoa. The painting of the ship is incredibly delicate, the handle is amazing to hold, and the body of the cup fits perfectly in my two hands. It’s just a truly wonderful cup.

Anthropologie “From The Deep” cup & saucer