Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Winter is Coming

Here is my first post which turned out to be not so-first-post-y

Winter is coming.

It is now mid-November in Montreal and it's starting to get cold. I'm not talking 'put on your hoodie' cold (like the West Coast, Ha!), I'm talking cold cold. Although we still have a few weeks before the  'stay in bed all day with two pairs of socks and a cup of tea' section of the thermometer, it's definitely getting there. While this means my daily commute is about to be extended by %200, I am looking forward to the months ahead as the weather gives me an excuse to brew and taste all sorts of comforting  and worldly teas.

Alright, winter doesn't really provide an excuse per-se to drink tea because, let's face it, I drink tea all year round, but it does make tea buying and drinking more acceptable to the none-tea-drinking horde out there (let's call them teagles).

You see, Teagles think tea is only acceptable on colder days and do not understand the many advantages (in terms of flavour, happiness, and health) to having tea all year round. When I make my tea runs in summer, Teagles will give me sideways glances as I exit a near-empty tear stores. They don't say anything, but they're thinking it.


But I digress. Despite the cold, the snow, the wetness, and general constant shiver, winter is a season that opens up many doors in the world of tea. While many enthusiast, and experts alike, look forward to the arrival of spring for the early pickings and young leaves, I tend to cast a longing eye towards the colder months of the year as it puts me in the mood for the richness and many layers of the darker teas which might have been a bit too full bodied a few weeks prior.

It was winter in mind that I decided to try a very particular Chinese black tea the other day at Chai Lounge in Montreal. The tea in question was called "Lapsang Souchong Butterfly" (shown below) and I must admit that I have never had one like it.
Lapsang Souchong Butterfly
 Image courtesy of TheInternationalTeaExchange

The tea is (very) often described as "A superior leaf, lapsang souchong offers a crisp character with the remarkable and heady aroma of an oak fire." It was unbelievably smokey; almost like someone left the leaves to dry by a campfire for many days. I had prepared myself for a tea rich in smokey undertones and layers, but what I got was a punch to the taste buds. In my opinion, it was overpowering and the smoky flavour was all you could taste and smell. The smell, taste, and after-taste was all the same and while it was interesting for the first few sips, it quickly became a bit much and disappointingly 'constant' in terms of flavour and aroma. That's not to say that I won't try it again, but next time I will know what to expect and can prepare accordingly. It also occurs to me that reducing steeping time would help to soften the teas character and my first impression might not be all attributable to the tea; the pot filled with leaves and water was sitting behind the counter for a good length of time.

Next time, I will be better prepared (and will ask for the leaves on the side). I will know what to expect flavour-wise, and I will have my own camera for pictures!

Is there a particular tea you enjoy during winter?


  1. I don't know why, but winter for me : white tea.
    Maybe it's just my brain that adds up white and white...

    Nevertheless, it might help that white teas are to be drank very hot, compared to green ones, for example..

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