Tea Company: Mark T. Wendall Tea Company (website)
Ingredients: A blend of Indian, Sri Lankan and Formosan teas
Vendor Suggested Preparation: not listed
My first experience with lapsang souchong was pretty disastrous—reminiscent of sucking pork rinds—so when I first opened this tea packet and the first whiff that hit my nose was souchong-like “smoke,” I was very apprehensive.
But, intrepid tea taster that I am, I persevered and was pleasantly surprised. The big, black loose leaves brew up a luscious, clear red-gold color. At three minutes with boiling water (again, I erred on the side of caution thinking this was going to be really strong) the smoke taste does lead the caravan, but the other teas in the blend add a little sweetness and balance–think “cozy library with leather bound books and a crackling fireplace” instead of “Bedouin campfire with charred wood fumes stinging your eyes and snoring camels.”
But is lapsang souchong responsible for the smoky taste? That’s where this turns into a mystery. As you can see, the origin of the teas in this blend are represented in the ingredient list, but the type of tea must be a closely guarded blenders-only secret.
All the Wendell website reveals is that Victorian Afternoon was once a private label blend for the Elizabethan Club of Yale University, which Wikipedia tells us is dedicated to “conversation, tea, the art of the book, and literature, focused on—but not exclusively of—the Elizabethan era.” This tea is a perfect fit for that mindset. I suppose that if I asked the good folks at Mark T. Wendell to reveal the recipe, they would simply quote me some good ol’ Elizabethan Shakespeare: “No, pardon; ’tis a secret must be locked within the teeth.” Oh, well. Whatever makes up this nice blend, if you’re a fan of smoky teas, Victorian Afternoon is one you’ll want to lock within your teeth, too.
You can purchase the Victorian Afternoon directly from the Mark T. Wendell website.
Written by GG
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