Hickory Beverages (Tea review #1)

27 Nov

It is amazing how infrequently in my life I smell that crisp, autumnal scent of burning wood, so common in this part of the world, and think to myself “Boy would I like that smell in a cup of hot water, so that I could drink it.” Frankly, that’d be a strange thing to think.

In fact, I would otherwise recommend not thinking that at all about things you smell. Sure, you’ll start out wanting to drink the scent of summer, or wanting to drink the smell of fresh spring rain, but sooner or later you’re going to be at the bottom of the barrel (who knows what that smells like) and you’re going to be drinking “The Scent of Freshly Laid Asphalt,” and then your life is over.

Therefore, you can see how it was some hesitation that I wound up purchasing Lapsang Souchon tea. I had neither had, nor heard, of it before, and I really enjoy experimenting with new teas. (This sometimes has disasterous results: do not mix your yummy Rooibos tea with your yummy black leaf tea, it will just upset your stomach). A tin of Lapsang was handed to me, I smelled it, and was terribly surprised to find that it smelled exactly like early October weather, when the smell of burning hickory wood is thick and cloying in the air.

Still, I bought it, brought it home, made a pot. Making a pot of it, by the way, made the whole house smell like a hickory wood fire, and that’s not always a good thing. I live in an apartment building. The last thing I needed was for the neighbors to say to each other “Someone is burning down their apartment in a hickory-smoked fashion, we had best call the appropriate authorities!”

You can see how Lapsang Souchon tea would be a bit intimidating, then. It doesn’t scream “drink me,” after all, but “cook marshmallows over me” Even when you’ve drained the tea leaves and poured yourself a cup, it too smells just as strongly.

But then, eventually, it cools and you take a hesitant drink of it. That’s when you find out that all your worry was for nothing, because as it turns out, Lapsang Souchon is one of the best teas out there, in this reviewer’s wildly biased opinion.

The interesting thing is that the tea doesn’t taste very much like hickory smoked wood at all. That’s all in the smell. The tea has its own interesting taste that’s harder to nail down than Earl Grey, and less pronounced than a fruit-based tea. Its taste is not sharp, and it is not strong. It’s a wonderful tea to drink by the teapot, and it is also a very good tea to drink if you are having red meat for dinner. There are huge lists of what sort of wines you are supposed to have with what types of meats. Well, honest, the same thing applies to tea. Lapsang Souchon, then, is a Red Meat tea.

I was only hesitant in the first place. Now, I welcome Lapsang Souchon gleefully into my home. Perhaps a bit too gleefully. Honest, I probably scare the cats. I enjoy the smell of it. And just a couple of months ago, before “interesting smells” turned into “really cold, cover your face,” (which is what happens in this part of the world), when everything outside smelled like burning wood, everything was reversed: this time around, the smell out of doors reminded me of Lapsang Souchon. I can think of worse things.

A final thought: it makes a good breakfast tea, but only because it has a silly amount of caffeine to it. Drink enough of the stuff and you’ll vibrate through solid matter in no time. (This reviewer does not guarantee this ability and does not suggest you run into the wall trying to phase through it. This reviewer also hope that, if you do, you do so hard enough to forget where you heard the suggestion.)


Posted by on November 27, 2007 in Uncategorized


10 responses to “Hickory Beverages (Tea review #1)

  1. Pete Tzinski

    November 27, 2007 at 11:06 am

    That’s sort of why I wrote this. The link was sent along with my resume and application for a tea reviewer position (does being a fool who mixes his tea make one an “expert?” Probably not.)

    And if they happen to read the comments…er…*waves*

    There, that should show them my level of personal dignity!

    It really IS delightful, Tori. I bought it at first, mostly because I couldn’t imagine anything drinkable smelling like that. I had no intention of enjoying it. I was really surprised. It’s my first-thing-in-the-morning tea, most days.

  2. mymidnightmuse

    November 27, 2007 at 11:11 am

    I ADORE Lapsang! It is, by far, my mostest favoritest tea of all time. My friends and family think I’m nuts. I opened a tin once in the mall to show them how wonderous it was, and they took hesitant sniffs and recoiled in horror at the thought of drinking something that smelled of the campfires of our childhood. But alas, the smell of tea is there to enhance flavors, not create them.

    Ahh . . . every cup full takes me back to my childhood, camping at the lake in the mountains.

    Did you know, Pete, and legend has it the monks in charge of drying tea leaves for the emperor had accidentally dropped some leaves into the fire. In a panic, they fished out the leaves and wiped off the soot, but had to keep them. The emperor was so enamored with the smokey flavor he demanded they make more. 😀

  3. tjwriter

    November 27, 2007 at 11:25 am

    Well then, good luck! I enjoy what you write, not that may mean much, but I like your approach. Tis why I return.

    I am working on a method to allow me to post more on my blog, and up the content to something more respectable than blathering on like any idiot.

    P.S. If y’all could comment on my hopes and dreams post, I’d like it so much. It’s the one from this morning. I may have to hire someone to be my cheerleader the way I’ve been feeling lately.

  4. Shadow Ferret

    November 27, 2007 at 11:34 am

    Would this tea also give me the asthmatic reaction the scent of real burning wood does? I do not think I would find that enjoyable.

  5. Pete Tzinski

    November 27, 2007 at 11:49 am

    No, Ed, I don’t think it would. You should try it. Except you don’t like tea, so…

    Tori, I’ll be happily commenting on your blog. I would have earlier, when I read the post, but I’m limited to what I can do at the moment. I have Mister “I had my vaccinations yesterday and I’m in a baaaaaaad/sick mood” Baby right now. Oof.

  6. Shadow Ferret

    November 27, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    Don’t feel bad, Tori. Pete has a small, select group of friends’ blogs he comments on. I’m not on that list either. (I’m not even linked.) :p

  7. tjwriter

    November 27, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    Poor Baby! Vaccines are tough.

    I read your blog, Ed. I just don’t feel qualified to comment on some of your topics.

  8. Lori

    November 27, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    But, Ed, you don’t acknowledge your comments, either.

  9. mymidnightmuse

    November 27, 2007 at 12:17 pm

    Your wife scared me!!

    I’m teasing 😀

  10. Shadow Ferret

    November 27, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    But Lori, you ran away.

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