Saturday, October 3, 2009

Tea Tasting Saturday #40 - Lapsang Souchong

As a little girl growing up in the sixties, I was sometimes given Creomulsion cough syrup when I was sick. I'm sure I became quite adept at holding back coughs because I absolutely detested the stuff, and that horrible taste would stick around forever. I was surprised to learn that Creomulsion was actually invented in the '20s, in neighboring Griffin, Ga., of all things. Happily for children of today, the cough syrup has been given a makeover with (according to the Creomulsion website) cherry flavoring and a pleasant taste. I did not know they still make such a thing as adult Creomulsion, however, and its ingredients include beechwood creosote. Creosote! That's exactly the smell I remember!

This week's tea reminds me very much of the old Creomulsion cough syrup I had as a little girl. Why on earth would anyone want to drink an entire cup of this stuff?

Category: Chinese Black Tea

Purveyor: Harney and Sons

Dry leaf appearance: Dark bits of tea leaf that smell like they've been to the very pit of you-know-where and back.

Wet leaf appearance: Soggy bits of same.

Steeping temperature and time: 1 teaspoon of tea, 205 degrees, 4 minutes.

Scent: Have any of you read the wonderful book "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis? I can't help wondering if this is what Screwtape and Wormwood drink. "My dear Wormwood," I can just hear Screwtape saying, "please enjoy the enclosed tea sample. It's a custom blend finished off with essence of creosote, and one whiff and it will no doubt whet your appetite for further such delicacies here in the underworld ..."

Color: A medium orange-brown.

Flavor: I'm willing to try just about any tea, anytime, but four sips of this was all I could choke down. Someone clearly found a 1960s-era stash of my mom's Creomulsion stock and used it as the basis for this tea. What other explanation could there *possibly* be for taking something as sweet, angelic, healthy and wholesome as camellia sinensis and turning it into this vile brew? (But on a more helpful note: I have used a scant amount of this tea, steeped, in place of liquid smoke in certain chili recipes with good results! It's a happy use for what would otherwise be a tossed tea!)

Additional notes: I was absolutely stunned to read in the Harney book that Lapsang Souchong was one of the original half-dozen teas Harney sold and remains a favorite! Say it ain't so!

Next week's tea: Ahh, back to the good stuff -- Singbulli Darjeeling


  1. what an amusing review! fun to read even though i don't plan to buy or taste the tea.

  2. I can't believe that I introduced this tea to a friend and now it is one of her favorites. You know what they say - with friends like that, you don't need any enemies. ;=)

    Your review is right on, Angela, except the smell reminds me of the stuff they use when tarring the road.

  3. Lapsang Souchong reminds me of my days as a Girl Scout, sitting around the campfire! What a unique tea, one that everyone should experience! It's one you don't forget.

  4. I don't care much for the stuff myself, but I know several people who love it. Most of them are guys who love campfires.

  5. Today, I really need the laughs! You certainly have provided them, Angela. I went to buy some Smokey Russian Caravan Has L.S. in it), and had to get the Russian Caravan instead. However, I was able to obtain The Lapsang Souchong in a bag all by itself. I have it set aside, just *waiting* for today. You did not disappoint me. My husband, David, couldn't stand the stuff...) Now if you happen to come across some of that old cough syrup, be sure to let me was my *favorite* Darn, you are good!

  6. Angela, obviously the person who *likes* this week's offering could use a good editor as anyone who types like that must must have a screw loose somewhere! Sorry, you know I don't do the anonymous thing ... This has to be one of your 10 best ever...!!! And I really do like Lapsang Souchong.

  7. You're funny. It occurred to me that Lapsang Souchong would go well with cream cheese, perhaps with some of the common tea party foods that feature it. That's because some recipes call for mixing liquid smoke with the cream cheese. Why not just drink some of this to go with the food? --Teaternity

  8. I just had a large pot of Lapsang. I put a good spoonful of Eaglebrand Sweetened Condensed Milk in each mug. Along with it, as Jason suggested, a croissant slathered in Philadelphia Cream Cheese (the one with the chives in it). Later I had generous portion of Dannon All Natural plain unadulerated yogurt and SUNSWEET California Pitted Dates. Jason was right! That Lapsang Soushong was really good with my tea party fare! :D

    P.S. I confess, I accidently put in that anonymous entry up above...I meant no harm..I just forgot to type my name in...g.

  9. Gwendol, I thought you were still AWOL in cyberspace until I read that "Anonymous" comment and thought it was you, then had it confirmed in the next comment! It's great that Jason's pairing suggestion worked out for you, and I admire you for being brave enough to own up to liking this tea!

  10. Sorry, darlin' but there are those of us who love the stuff.
    There are some that are really disgusting, I will agree.
    I can't stand blackberry jello because I always had it when I was sick, along with chewable aspirin. Chewable? It came right back up, along with that awful purple gunk!

  11. PS - I have a very hard time with this tea, too - tho some people adore it.

  12. You've done such a great job with these!

  13. My husband said he thought it tasted pretty good! Then again, he drowns all food in hot sauce so it must have done something to his taste buds. lol


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