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When it comes to lapsang souchong, smoke is key to the flavor. Not everyone craves heavy smoke, which we account for with a selection of lapsangs, but for those that can't get enough smoke? The ones that yearn for a bonfire in a cup, a pillar of smoke distilled down to a liquid, something so heavy it feels like you're breathing in a pyre? Well the scorching burst is for you.

 

The Scorching Burst is a lapsang unlike the rest insofar as it is not actually Chinese! Some say in order for lapsang souchong to count as lapsang souchong, it must come from the Wuyi Mountains, grown on Chinese soil. But we aren't quite so prescriptivist. This Taiwanese black tea comes from Nantuo province and is made just like any traditional lapsang, but comes from the modern Taiwan Tea No. 18 (designed by the government subsidized Tea Research Extension Station in the Sun Moon Lake tea-growing region of Nantou County) designed specifically for black tea. It is a hybrid of traditional Indian Assimica leaf with the wild-grown Taiwanese mountain tea plants. Also called "Red Jade," it was created specifically for growing demand for black teas, as Taiwan has historically stuck to its oolong classics.

 

Red Jade tea tends towards a medium-dark body with mild astringency and has forward notes of mint with undertones of cinnamon and clove. All of these notes come through in the Scorching Burst, but all fall in behind the crazy pominent flavor of the traditional lapsang souchong smoking process. Falling in with the old-school Fujian processing, which involves withering the leaves over wild pine fires, then oxidizing in a cloth-covered barrel, then smoking dry over fresh pine wood fires, this one twists it ever so slightly to a Taiwanese style.

 

The initial withering is done over a blend of pine and oak wood, then it is pan-fired like a green tea or oolong, then, just like with oolong, the leaves are hand-rolled into thin needle-like strips. Once rolled, the leaves are pressed into a wooden barrels and allowed to oxidize, just like the Chinese style. However upon oxidizing, they are once again rolled into tight strips, then hung in bamboo baskets over pine boughs, following traditional style.

This process gives it a rich and robust smoky flavor that, thanks to the fact that the leaves are smoked both before and after rolling, makes the smoke pack far, far more of a punch than any of our other lapsangs. Like a tieguanyin carries flavor from cup to cup as it unfurls with every steep, this lapsang unrolls faster, but just unloads unreal amounts of smoke buried deep within the leaf. The combination of oak and pine in the pre-roll smoking gives it a heavy, intense smoke that is locked into the leaf during the pan-firing, then stored upon rolling. Then the classic pine bough smoking after rolling gives it that quintissential lapsang pine-smoke bite that comes from the thin branches and the pine needles that pop in the fire.

 

The result is a crazy intense lapsang with a heavy body, overpowering smoke with layer after layer of smoky flavor that never gives up, and enough interesting flavor behind it that once you're adjusted to the smoke, you can start to notice the notes of mint and spice innate in the tea leaf itself. This is a lapsang for lapsang enthusiasts, and we would not begrudge any fan of black teas that isn't used to lapsangs for skipping over this one. It's intense, it's a lot, and the smoke is utterly unrelenting. This one is truly a pillar of fire dropped right in your cup.

 

Gwen's Suggestion

As with most lapsangs, Gwen recommends this one straight up with nothing in it. For those faint of heart, perhaps dial it back to 2:00 or 2:30 rather than the full 3:00. However, any fan of lapsangs that can handle a punch of smoke should absolutely drink it at 3:00. Going much higher than that will start to bring out the bitterness which, combined with the crazy smoke, might be too much to handle.


The Name

Scorching Burst is a classic Wizard ability dating back to as far as we can remember in D&D, and never has a tea been more deserving of its name than this one. The spell, which drops a giant pillar of fire on the battlefield with an unrelenting explosion, is a must-have in any combat wizard's toolkit. This tea is absolutely the drink equivelant: a hardcore pillar of flame that hits hard, burns its taste into your mouth, and just erupts with smoke with every single tiny sip. This is more than a campfire or a bonfire, this is absolutely a pillar of fire from the heavens brought on by a wizard with a grudge.

Scorching Burst — Fiery Lapsang Souchong

PriceFrom $9.03
1 Ounce