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Hu-Kwa Tea Reviews
“Mark T. Wendell's Hu Kwa Tea is a beautiful offering of a Lapsang Souchong, and according to their website, it's considered a benchmark for Chinese Lapsang teas. It's certainly wonderful from an aesthetic perspective, with long, slender leaves smelling of pine fire sweetness. I brewed a teaspoon of this tea in 8 ounces of water permitted to boil and then cool in the kettle for a couple of minutes. The website at Mark T. Wendell offers excellent brewing parameters for this tea, which I will admit to being somewhat hesitant to follow to the proverbial T. I allowed the tea to steep precisely 5 and a half minutes. Then I removed the leaves and allowed the tea to sit in the pot another half a minute before pouring.

“The tea has a gorgeous deep coppery orange color that you could spend a great deal of time admiring in its own right. Along with a beautiful color comes a truly sweet smell loaded with pine smoke. The taste is light and elegant, sweet and with balanced smoky nuances that linger delicately. I found the cup to be really surprising, and quite unlike other Lapsangs I've been able to try. Of several I've tried, this one is remarkable to me in that the smoky scent and flavor is pervasive, to be sure, but is wonderfully balanced and tasteful. The taste of smokiness doesn't linger in the mouth as a cloudy, campfire sort of residue but rather as a bright and piney, fresh crispness. The cup has a fine, surprising elegance and lightness to it that is most enjoyable and eyebrow raising considering the power that a smoke flavor can sometimes have to make a cup heavy. This cup is truly light. That a Lapsang could come across as both full of its hallmark flavor as well as delicate and elegant seemed a marvelous achievement to me.

“In my experimentations with leaf proportions, I found that a scant to precise teaspoon yielded the best results for my tastes. A slightly higher amount of leaf, roughly 1.5 teaspoons per 8 ounces, definitely brought to light a sturdier cup. While still excellent in taste, the lesser amount of leaf allows a just perfect natural sweetness to shine through along with the smoky flavors. The sturdier cup exhibited interesting sour notes rather than notably sweet ones. I thought the lesser leaf steeping would pair well with savory items and the stronger cup seemed to request a sweeter pairing.

“A second infusion is well worth the time. I found the tea quite forgiving and never prone to bitterness in terms of either the first or the second infusion.

“I highly recommend this lovely Lapsang offering from Mark T. Wendell and can definitely see why Hu Kwa is considered a benchmark among Lapsangs.”
- Jamie, Reviewer
“HU-KWA. I originally ordered this tea as a “test drive”, being curious about the “smoke” flavor described in the item description on the website. I have NEVER enjoyed flavored teas (i.e. Teas flavored with secondary aromas or infusions of fruit or tannin) and have long-enjoyed earthy, natural teas (toasted rice green teas among the favorites). When my initial order of Hu-Kwa tea arrived, I was taken-aback by the extremely pungent, smoky aroma. The aroma was akin to day-old burned logs, bordering on over-powering. Nonetheless, I brewed my first cup and was ASTONISHED at the outcome. The first sip laid to rest any worry I had – IT WAS AMAZING! As with any lapsang souchong tea, the smoky flavor should serve only to complement the natural earthiness of the tea. This tea not only follows that rubric, it defines it. Before even touching my lips, the aroma permeated my palate, setting up a wonderful first sip. The first taste of the tea was not unlike any other nice black tea, but very quickly turned in to something else. As the brew rested momentarily on my palate, the (very) light tanins awoke my taste buds with the start of the smoky finish, and as I swallowed I was greatly surprised that the start of the smoky flavor was also, nearly, the end. The pine-aroma was ever-so-light, and finished beautifully, as merely a complement to the medium-bodied, earthy brew. I enjoy this tea many times a day, and find that the medium to strong body is extremely satisfying. The most difficult part is that a single 8-12oz cup is never enough. Although brewing time is paramount in all tea steeping, this tea becomes tannic VERY quickly, if steeped longer than 5-5:30 minutes. My preference is on the less tannic side, so I always use a timer. I also recommend steeping with a lid, as the aromatic qualities benefit greatly.”
- Michael Tausig Jr (12-03-10)
“Hu-Kwa is my favorite always. It is full of memories as well as flavor. I am addicted. My late husband’s family, ancestors, traded with Houqua, and we donated a portrait of the ship in a storm to the Peabody museum some years ago. It was one of 3 portraits of the ship, I think. My father-in-law named a yacht many, many years ago “The Houqua”. No longer in the yacht owning stratum of society but I really enjoy the tea! Glad that you continue to provide it.”
- Alexandra Moffat (11-09-10)
When he returned from service in China in World War II, my uncle had become a devotee of fine Chinese teas. His favorite and almost exclusive blend was Lapsang Souchong and I remember clearly the can of Hu-Kwa ever present in his kitchen. He introduced me to it when I was in my teens and I too became a devotee of Hu-Kwa. I think of him whenever I brew the tea and especially when I introduce it to a friend. I continue a tradition of almost 70 years in my family with this magnificent tea.”
- Lewis P. Orans (10-15-10)
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