Sunday, June 30, 2013

The splitter tea

Today was the day I gave in to insomnia and got up at 5am, made tea and bread with honey, turned on the heater and took a bit of time alone. It's been quite delicious, though I'm aware I'll need to get up in 8 minutes and go and have an entire day.
Lapsang souchong is an amazing tea, in my opinion. It's got big leaves, which are traditionally smoked on bamboo racks over smouldering pine logs. Most people either love it, because it reminds them of campfires and being outside and warmth and time with friends, or they loathe it because it's a flavour often associated with savoury food, and they struggle with its place in tea. For me, smoke and tea go together because I've been camping a lot and I like tea out of a billy, not a plastic kettle, and I like to sit round a campfire first thing looking over the river, drinking my tea and listening to the birds, which I can hear now, just waking up.
It's almost 'go and have an entire day' time. I hope you have a wonderful day, whether lapsang souchong seems like a great tea or an abomination to you.
I think flavour balance is a huge thing. I disagree with a lot of the pricier earl grey blenders, because the bergamot overwhelms the tea. I love earl grey, but I'm a fan of restrained bergamot. Similarly, lapsang is best if the flavour of the smoke doesn't drown out the tea flavour.
If you like Twining's Russian Caravan, it's got a little bit of smoke in it. It's pretty weird working in a modern office and wandering round with a cup of lapsang, with other people saying 'I smell bacon or something' and giving them the cup to smell. I've watched some intense reactions, from 'wow' to 'yuk'. Personally, I would never say 'yuk' to someone else's food, but there you go.

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