The Best Smoky Tea: 5 Smoke-Forward Blends

Is there anything better than curling up with a cup of bold, smoky tea on a snowy evening? While Lapsang is the traditional example of a classic smoked tea, there are a variety of teas with smoky notes, including Russian Caravan, China Keemun, Vietnamese Golden Tips, and more. We’ll cover the best smoky tea blends, plus what you should consider when choosing a tea.

What is smoky tea?

Smoky-flavored teas run the gamut from Lapsang Souchong, which is smoked over burning wood, to creative blends that incorporate Lapsang Souchong along with other teas and herbs, like Russian Caravan or Santa Fe Sage. Dry, astringent Chinese and Vietnamese black teas tend to have smoky, toasty notes, even if they’re not actually smoked.

5 smoky tea blends

Looking for a smoke-forward tea? These blends are full of toasty, woodsmoke notes.

1. Lapsang Souchong Black Tea

Lapsang Souchong is a smoky, aromatic tea with a smooth, crisp character. Reminiscent of woodsmoke or even expensive cigars, this classic tea has a hint of natural sweetness and is perfect to curl up with on a cool day. Unlike other black teas, which are usually withered and then steamed or fired, the leaves used to make Lapsang are smoke-dried over burning pinewood. This process imparts a distinctive flavor to the tea, with a smoky, campfire-like aroma and notes of pine and burnt sugar.

2. China Keemun Black Tea

China Keemun is the other traditional component in Russian Caravan tea blends. This Chinese black tea is smoky and toasty, with notes of tobacco and a dry finish. Grown in China's Anhui Province, our China Keemun has a beautiful reddish amber color and a medium body.

3. Vietnamese Golden Tips Black Tea

While many classic black teas come from China or India, unique and highly sought after teas are grown throughout Asia, including countries like Nepal, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Vietnamese Golden Tips is a stellar example of a premium Vietnamese tea, with a dry, moderately astringent character and a slightly sweet taste with notes of burnt sugar, caramel, and smoke.

4. Santa Fe Sage Black Tea

If you’re looking for a Lapsang-inspired blend, but don’t want to be overwhelmed by the smokiness of straight Lapsang, then Santa Fe Sage is a wonderful choice. This original blend combines Lapsang Souchong black tea, Nilgiri black tea, anise seed, juniper berries, white sage, and cinnamon for an intensely aromatic, slightly smoky tea that embodies the spirit of Santa Fe.

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5. Russian Caravan Tea

Russian Caravan is actually a blend of two or more different teas. Traditionally, this tea is made by combining roughly equal parts of Lapsang Souchong and a classic black tea like China Keemun. Russian Caravan is typically slightly lighter and mellower than Lapsang, with the smoky notes balanced out by crisp, classic black tea. Depending on the blend, Russian Caravan may also contain small amounts of oolong tea or another classic black tea.

How to brew smoky teas

All of the teas mentioned above are black teas, which means that their preparation instructions are largely the same. For most black teas, we recommend using approximately one level teaspoon of tea leaves for every six ounces of water in your pot or cup. Heat your water to a full boil (212 degrees). Then infuse your tea leaves for three to five minutes, remove the leaves, and enjoy!

Many people enjoy smoky black teas with a splash of milk or a spoonful of honey. Smoky teas like Lapsang also make a wonderful base for tea lattes.

FAQs

What teas are similar to Lapsang Souchong?

Bold, smoky, and slightly sweet, Lapsang Souchong has a flavor that’s all its own. But whether you’re out of Lapsang at the moment and looking to recreate the flavor, or just want to explore other similar smoky teas, there are several similar blends worth checking out, including Russian Caravan, China Keemun, Vietnamese Golden Tips, and Santa Fe Sage.

What does Lapsang Souchong taste like?

Lapsang Souchong is primarily known for its bold, smoky flavor. Underneath the smokiness, Lapsang has a slightly natural sweetness and a crisp, astringent finish.

What are some examples of smoky black teas?

Lapsang Souchong is the classic example of a smoked black tea, since the tea leaves are actually smoke-dried over burning pinewood. Other black teas with smoky notes include China Keemun and Vietnamese Golden Tips.

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