Pinkies down! Teatime sheds any pretension when smoky teas enter the infuser. From just a kiss of toast to full-blown campfire, smoked teas run the flavor gamut. Some, like China Yunnan, “have an earthy, almost forest floor–like characteristic,” says teamaker Steven Smith, “with notes of leather, smoke and spice.” Others, like China Keemun, “have more of a winey and slightly oily note,” says Smith, with a subtle smoke presence that lends “hints of charcoal.” Really want to get your smoke on? “Lapsang souchong is the tea of campers who like to position themselves in the direction of the campfire smoke,” Smith says. It’s intensely smoky and also a favorite of bartenders, thanks to the layer of sultry nuance it adds to the glass—click here for a cocktail recipe, and check out these three smoky teas we’re sipping right now.
SerendipiTea Dusky Rose
Dried rose petals add a delicate floral finish to this mildly smoky Chinese keemun.
$10/4 oz., serendipitea.com
New Mexico Tea Company Russian Caravan
A soft, approachable entry to smoky teas, this blend of Indian Assam, Keemun and Lapsang Souchong was named after the old China-Russia trade route where evening campfires imbued a soft smoky essence to the tea being transported
$4/2 oz., nmteaco.com
Smith Tea No. 18 Brahmin
Full-bodied Indian Assam and two Ceylons blend with a pinch of Chinese keemun for a soft, approachable entry to smoky-profiled teas.
$12/3.5 oz., smithtea.com
Smith Tea No. 21 Keemun Hao Ya B
Harvested high in the mountains of China’s Anhui Province, this Keemun is considered one of the highest grades of its kind.
$11/2 oz., smithtea.com
Tao of Tea Smoked Earl Grey
Bergamot-infused organic black tea from India is blended with China’s famed Lapsang Souchong for a steamy cuppa that warmly balances citrus and smoke.
$8.75/3.5 oz., taooftea.com
Tao of Tea Pine Smoked Black
This organic black tea from China’s Fujian province is woodsy with an unabashed smokiness that mellows when mixed with a spoonful of sugar and a spot of milk.
$9/4 oz., taooftea.com
Tea Trekker Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong
Hand-harvested deep in the protected mountain valley of China’s Wu Yi Shan, this Lapsang souchong is cold-smoked and can handle a second steeping.
$20/4 oz., teatrekker.com
The House of Tea Tsar Nicholas
Assertive Lapsang souchong gets softened with the addition of silver needle white tea leaves in this blend from Philadelphia’s House of Tea.
$12/4 oz., houseoftea.com