Tea Company: Mark T. Wendall Tea Company (website)
Ingredients: Black Tea
Vendor Suggested Preparation: Steep for 4-5 minutes in 190-200deg F (88-93deg C) water. In order to enjoy the unique flavor of Hu-Kwa we recommend allowing the tea to draw for five and one-half minutes. Stir, and let the tea settle for about one-half minute. Then decant. Hu-Kwa Tea is best appreciated when drunk clear. Milk or too much sugar compromises its delicate flavor. A little cream goes well but sugar should be used sparingly.
In the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t mean to select this tea. I saw the Mark T. Wendell name (which generally means really good stuff) and didn’t link the name “Hu-Kwa” to lapsang souchong–which it is. My first experience with pure lapsang souchong was not a good one—I likened it to sucking on liquid pork rinds, gave the leaves to a friend who liked it even less, and I think it became somebody’s house plant fertilizer.
However, honor-bound as a taste-tester, I bucked up and made a weak half-hearted pot (light on the leaf, barely 2 minutes on the steep) on a wickedly snowy Sunday afternoon … and was pleasantly surprised to discover that this variety actually tastes like tea! The campfire aroma hits you hard and strong, both in the dry leaf and in the cup, but the smoke taste was sweet, not salty—toasted marshmallows instead of burnt bacon.
When I did a little exploring on the Wendell website, I discovered that the recommended optimum steep was five and a half whole minutes…well past my comfort zone. But in the interest of due diligence, I made another cup, gave it the proper steeping time and took a timid sip, expecting “essence of short ribs.” Under the pine smoke, the tea flavor was a little stronger and more puckery, but it wasn’t unbearably strong as I expected.
Hu-Kwa, a blend exclusive to Mark T. Wendell, will no doubt stoke the fires of bona fide lapsang souchong fans. It didn’t turn me into a flaming devotee, but it did teach me that well-prepared smoky tea need not be a turnoff, either.
You can purchase the Hu-Kwa Lapsang Souchong directly from the Mark T. Wendall Tea Company website.
Written by GG
Its All About the Leaf Reviewer
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