Even if I was the best clairvoyant in the world, I would still never be able to predict the Japanese version of lapsang souchong. Whiskey barrel wood smoked black tea is a black gem from the country of green tea.
As soon as I saw it, I had to have it. I was super excited, asking everyone at home did postman rang today, every single day since, even before I got the email that the tea was sent. Crazy, I know, but I wanted to try it as soon as I saw it. Then, about one week later, I finally received it. And didn’t open the bag until recently. I was scared. It was like a small little treasure, I didn’t want to ruin it and wanted to wait for the perfect moment.
Japan Mastering the Black Tea Production
Whiskey barrel wood smoked black tea, or simplified Kunsei koucha (jap: 燻製紅茶), smoked red tea, is a Japanese take on popular Chinese lapsang souchong, or zhengshan xiaozheng (smoked version). 50 grams is 18 USD. So, how is it different? Is it possible to create a tea that could be worthy of the lapsang souchong lover’s heart? Yes it is. Whiskey barrel wood smoked black tea is the proof. This tea is actually a Silver Medal Winner at the 2014 International Tea Tasting Competition. Although most might think that Japan is the country of sake and tea, but it is also a country of whiskey. And what a good use those barrels found.
This tea is very different from Chinese smoked teas. First, leaves are visually very different. They are broken, live and fresh, but on a bit dark greenish side with few reddish-brown stalks. Scent is very intense and deep. This tea looks very delicate and sophisticated. Placed in a warm teapot, they are extremely intense, deep, sweet, pure, smokey and alive. It does have a scent of smoked salmon, but finely smoked.
The Fear of Brewing Whiskey Barrel Wood Smoked Black Tea
3 grams of tea, 200ml of water, 90 degrees Celsius, 5 minutes. I was very afraid I would somehow ruin it. In the end, it turned out this tea is very forgiving, it has a lot to offer and it doesn’t care if you make a mistake. Color is beautiful, live and almost like you put a drop of amber and red paint into a cup. Very strong and live. Even though the scent of dry leaves is very strong, tea itself has a more subtle, sophisticated scent and flavor. It’s very full, but smokiness is only veiling the whole flavor, not overtaking it. It’s quite light and very refreshing, without any traces of bitterness.
The interesting part is how it changes through steepings. Leaves changed from extreme smokiness to sweet fruit, and fresh malty and light leather scent before the last steeping. You can use the same leaves at least three times.
Whiskey barrel wood smoked black tea is definitely a dessert tea, one for slow enjoying and admiration. It is more than suitable to become your everyday tea, but I like to pay it more respect with careful brewing.