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Wuyi Origin 2021 Wild Lapsang Souchong

April 16, 2022

Brewing Info

Leaf5.3g
Temperature205°F
Water155ml
Time30-45sec
Infusions6

Wild Lapsang Souchong 野生小种2021

I haven't written about any tea recently, and wanted to write something                                        
for my site that no one will read. I would have opted for a nice fresh   
green shincha; but since its early in spring, those haven't started       
shipping yet. Instead, I dug through my stock of tea packets to find     
something nice to drink. In a bin of samples I had gotten with other     
orders, I found a small brown packet labeled 'Wild Lapsang Souchong      
野生小种2021' among many older green tea and puerh samples.     
Lapsang Souchong Packaging
While its not a very spring-style tea, I haven't had a lapsang souchong 
tea in a while, so I figured it was worth a try. I believe this is Wuyi 
Origin's 2021 Wild Lapsang Souchong that was likely included with some 
Bai Mudan that I had ordered from them months ago. Over the years, I 
have tried a few different lapsang souchong teas, and some have not been
super pleasant. I tend to like the ones with notes of fruit, but many are
drown out by a smokiness that kind of ruins my experience. In a few 
cases, the smokiness has been very long lasting, and ruined the overall 
experience. Even some that have gotten better with later infusions have 
sometimes been ruined by the wash or first infusions. I believe that is 
not the standard people come to expect from this style; but my bad luck 
has dissuaded me from trying more in recent purchases.

Dry Leaf

Dry Leaf
The leaves were very typical of a smoke-dried tea. The leaf was mostly 
twisted, hard, tight black leaves. Looking closely, some gold and brown 
showed through the darkness, but only a small amount. Overall the tea 
was made up of mostly nice large leaves, even given it was stored in a 
tiny paper packet. There was a bit over 5g of tea in the packet, which 
was plenty for my 155ml gaiwan.

The scent of the dry leaf was somewhat typical for a dry black tea. Some
very subtle notes of dried fruit, but not strong enough to say it is a
"fruity" tea. Kind of a raisin scent, and maybe a bit like other dried 
citrus. There was a bit of a smokey scent, but not strong enough to 
scare me and remind me of the super smokey teas I've had in the past. 
The scent honestly was not the most pleasant to me, but wasn't as bad as
I would expect from a smoke-dried tea.

Wash

Washed LeafLeaf Wash
The liquor from the wash was a nice golden color, typical of many black 
teas and lapsang souchong teas. It definitely appeared thicker, and 
stickier than some washes I've done in the past; and it left bubbles/tea
on the inside of the gaiwan. Maybe this is just a result of the more 
coarse "Jade Porcelain" that my gaiwan is made of. It may not stick the
same way on a smoother, standard porcelain finish.

The leaf did begin to unfurl, even if it was just a small amount. Some 
browns and greens started to show through the originally black leaf. The
aroma had some very strong fruity notes. While the dry leaf gave me 
notes of raisin and other dried fruit, the wet leaf opened up quite a 
bit, and reminded me of grapes and pears. There was a a bit of piney or
smokiness as well, but it was very much overshadowed by the fruity notes
coming from the tea.
Washed Leaf
I did not drink the wash - as I mentioned earlier, I typically don't 
drink the wash for the smokier lapsang-like teas because it can ruin the
experience. The wash removes some harshness, and a lot of the smokiness.
It looked very thick and smooth, and could have had a decent taste; 
however, I've been disappointed by washes in the past, and figured it 
was worth waiting for the first true infusion. 

First Infusion

Steeping first infusion
The wet leaf smelled a lot more like pear or peach than it did on the 
wash. The fruitiness came out much more in this infusion, and any smoke 
scent had basically disappeared. The color of the leaf also changed. The
browns came out a lot more, even though leaf did not open much more than
it did from the initial wash. The liquor was a bit more red than the 
the initial golden liquor from the wash. It does not quite show in the 
pictures, but it was a very deep golden red. The liquid still had the 
same thick and smooth appearance of the wash, but did not stick to the
gaiwan in the same way.
First infusion wet leafFirst infusion sharing cup
The taste was very clean, with a light but slightly creamy mouthfeel. 
Similar to the scent, the taste was slightly fruity and a bit floral; 
but not nearly as fruity as it smelled. It definitely was closer to a 
pear flavor, and a slight citrus flavor; but a bit lighter than I 
expected given the scent. No smokiness at all, which was also a bit 
surprising. If anything, I could maybe taste the floral/vegetal notes 
from the smoke, but it was extremely subtle.. maybe made up while 
searching for the smokey flavor!
Tea cup of first infusion
The liquor leaves a smooth mouthfeel after drinking, with some roundness
as the tea sticks to the inside of your mouth. There's maybe a touch of 
astringency and tightness to the tip of your tongue as it finishes, but 
its an overall pleasant aftertaste. I was extremely surprised at how 
mild this first infusion turned out. I went in expecting smoke and 
strong flavors until the tea unfurled, but was met with nice fruity 
flavors.

Later Infusions

The second infusion was the same color and flavor overall, but I could 
smell the wet leaf opening up, with maybe a slightly fruitier scent. 
Later infusions smelled maybe a bit closer to peach than pear; but still
very pear-like... if that makes sense. By the third infusion, the liquor
started to seem a bit lighter in color. The scent of wet leaf was about 
the same, but leaves really started to open. The shapes and colors of 
the leaves started to really show, and the leaves really started to 
absorb more of the liquid. You could start to see more of the shapes, 
veins, and stems as the greens started to pop show in the unfurled 
leaves.
Close up of leafClose up of steep
The later infusions had a much lighter sweetness to them. The notes of 
pear were still there, but not hitting you in the face like they did in 
the first couple infusions. The mouthfeel obviously lightened up as 
well; but there was still a slightly smooth, creaminess to it that 
lasted though even some of the very late infusions. I kept steeping 
until most of the flavor had dissipated, and moved to 45 second 
infusions by the end.

Conclusion

Final leaf
This was a really great tea, and I think the typical lapsang souchong 
style that people often talk about. I had been burned by cheap and 
overly smokey lapsang souchongs in the past, which made me go into this
review with low expectations. I was pleasantly surprised with the flavor
and will likely try some more teas like this going forward.

To speak directly to Wuyi Origin's tea, it seems like a very nice tea. I
don't have enough experience with this style to compare "Wild" teas to a
typical farm-grown tea; but if I venture into this style more, I may 
make a follow up post to compare and explain the differences. To anyone
wondering if they should try this out, I'd say it is worth the purchase.

References