Some tea companies deck themselves out with fancy monikers like Chateau Rouge and Adagio. But with Joseph Wesley Black Tea, you’re getting exactly that: black tea, brought to you by a tea-loving guy named Joseph.
Plain and simple.
So, does this brand new startup from Detroit (or should I say, Tea-troit) give you a cup of average Joe?
The Classic Chinese doesn’t just smell “classic” when dry. Book fiends will get lost with their noses in it, with the leaves’ aroma of ancient dark halls filled with heavy scrolls; a library from the dawn of storytime. This quiets noticeably in the cup as it transitions into the warm, rich notes we get from our Chinese blacks.
Unlike finicky Darjeelings, go against your first ins-tea-nct and let this one steep for a little longer, and be sure the water is max temperature. A languid 5 minutes will do the both of you good, as you’re rewarded with a dewy sweetness on top of the sesame base. Not a roasty coffee substitute, this one–we’ve got different heat application methods going on here. Braising and slow-cooking, like Gordon Ramsey took this tea and set it with utmost concentration on the back burner, and if anyone got too close or tried to take it off, they limped back to their side of the kitchen, sent by very certain words regarding their mother, heritage, and value as a human being. You just happen to be the lucky fellow who gets to taste this master(-Chef)-piece when it’s done, steaming on the plate and dressed with hazelnut sauce and almond crumbs. (It’s quite nut-tea up in here.)
If you do milk, make it unflavored so you don’t miss out on the natural sugar tones. Sweetener–don’t bother.
Joseph Wesley’s Lapsang Souchon blows heavy smoke in your face upon first whiff of the dry leaves. Not quite as heavy as if you’re standing next to Grandpa Joe and his massive Cuban cigar; this is when he’s stepped out to the bathroom and left his jacket behind, which you put on so that, just for a moment, you can feel like the Old Spice guy.
And yet, once in the cup, this baby comes out as light as you please–we go from Old Spice to Posh Spice, all grown up and nestled in the arms of David Beckham. The liquor is tarnished gold, like a pale ale, and the aroma gives you nothing but honey-sweet. Is this really a Lapsang? Like the Classic Chinese, it’s so smooth and fragrant that you can’t even believe it’s passed your lips after the sip. Whoo! This also makes it super forgiving of being oversteeped. If you’re looking to branch out from your standard morning Assam, but fear getting into a committed relationship with leaves that you can barely pronounce, then this one will treat you like a dream. There’s even a tinge of apricot in there for the fruit-inclined. (Even those fruits.) Peach comes in second, waving a golden flag.
With a cup this fun, ignore the milks and sugars.
Next up: the congfu series. (Congfu = gongfu, just a different spelling. When we’re trying to write Chinese words phonetically, with only 26 letters at our tea-sposal, no one ever agrees on transliterations. Just roll with it and don’t be surprised when you see Keemun spelled twenty different ways and all of them make sense to some degree.)