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Aug 22, 2009 06:07 PM

Qi Lapsang Souchong: What to do with it?

On a recent expedition to the exotic land of California, I indulged in one of my pasttimes of seeing what the local bottle shops carry that we don't have at home. One thing I came home with is a bottle of Qi lapsang souchong tea liqueur. The promise of "aromas of rare fruits, exotic spice, and cedar-smoked tea" on the label drew me in. When I tried out the spirit, the first taste was delightful, but then quickly gave way to the cedar smoke. It tasted like I was drinking a smoldering wood pile. I tried putting it up against other aggressive flavors in the bar, but nothing was to tame it. Is there anything I can do with this stuff?

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  1. Lapsang Souchong tea is either a love or hate thing. The smokiness can be quite overpowering, and I actually -like- the stuff! I'm surprised they made a liqueur of this, as it sounds just...UGHH. (I hope you didn't pay much for it!)

    Things to do with it? I vote for giving it to friends when they come over, and watch them make odd faces at the flavors! Drink-wise? It's totally too odd to be a good mixer, at least to me. That smokiness will come thru, no matter what, I imagine.

    I wonder how this got green-lit to be made?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Honeychan

      I would imagine it got green-lit for the same reason I bought it... it sounded great on paper.

    2. The smokiness is similar to some mescals. They are both best used in small amounts as a flavoring in cocktails, like bitters. Maybe try a few drops in an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan.

      Next time you are in CA you should visit St. George Spirits, where Qi is made, as you can taste all their potions before purchasing.

      And they green light all kinds of things, like the Foidka that is being tested now (

      1. I <3 QI! I'm from Pennsylvania, where unusual spirits like this are extremely difficult to come by. Our bar had been using Hangar-1 vodkas for several years, so we tried to get the Qi. We came to find out that these liqueurs are distributed under a different subsidiary of St.George Spirits than Hangar-1. After a long arduous process of special-ordering procedures that is ever so indicative of purchasing quality products in PA, I was finally able to get hold of 6 bottles of Qi Black.

        And let me tell you: it was worth every penny and every minute I spent "wasting someone's time" at the local liquor stores!!!

        Don't know what to do with it? Try a KOWLOON COCKTAIL #3 (my own recipe):

        ~ 1.50 barspoons Citron Honey (a marmalade-like tea base, popular in Korea)
        ~ 2.00-oz New Amsterdam gin
        ~ 1.00-oz Qi Black
        ~ 0.75-oz DeKuyper Triplesec
        ~ Splash Sours mix (high-end, or home-made)

        Dry shake (no ice) in a cocktail shaker until ingredients are well-integrated.
        Pour into an old-fashioned glass, filled with ice... making sure that the marmalade ends up on the top for both visual and olfactory appeal. Can be topped with a splash of club soda (optional).

        The Kowloon Cocktail #3 is an excellent "breakfast cocktail" to serve with brunch... or as an afternoon refresher.

        1. I have a bottle (Qi Black). It's not sweet at all, which surprised me - 'tho that's how I drink lapsang souchong tea. It's true to the tea style, very strong smokiness. I can't imagine drinking it straight. The manufacturer's website has (or used to have) a number of recipes incorporating it, most of which relied on Cointreau or similar orange liqueur for sweetness and orange flavor. I haven't gotten around to any of these - I like my drinks simple, at home - but imagine that combination would work quite well.

          3 Replies
          1. re: tcd

            Also remember that just because a bartender puts two sweet ingredients in the shaker... doesn't necessarily mean that the final cocktail will be as sweet as either of them on their own. Sometimes there's a sine-wave effect where the sweetness is intensified. Other times, two sweets cancel each other out a bit and you're left with magic.

            1. re: scQue814

              Interesting observation. I can't recall a cocktail where the sweetness of the ingredients didn't come through as expected in the result. Of course, acid moderates sweet. And bitter increases the tolerance for sweet. (By that I mean that one might enjoy a bitter/sweet cocktail like a Negroni whereas the same drink without the bitter would be unappealingly sweet.)

              Can you give an example? This is interesting to me because Kindred Cocktails recommends other cocktails based (in part) upon analysis of the flavor profile -- and that includes sweetness (and many other characteristics).

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              1. re: EvergreenDan

                My first year in bartending, I came up with a cocktail that we called the Neo-Tokyo. It's been a long time since I've made this drink, but I do recall the "un-sweetening" effect to be the most pronounced with this one... (It's funny that nowadays this drink would never even occur to me!)

                NEO-TOKYO -- (green/blue/red).....$6.00
                ~ 0.75 Dry saké
                ~ 0.75 Stoli Vanil
                ~ 0.75 Zen green tea liqueur
                ~ 0.5 Apple Pucker schnapps
                ~ Dash Sours mix
                ~ Splash of Pineapple Juice
                SHAKE. Strain into glass in front of customer.
                ~ 0.5 Blue Curacao
                (Trickle into glass.)
                DO NOT STIR!
                ~ 0.25 Grenadine (Trickle into glass.)
                GARNISH w/ an elaborate skewer of Lime wedge, Cherries and Lemon twist.
                [Encourage customer to squeeze the lime on top of the drink.]

                This ingredient list sounds like a horrific sugar-bomb. But turns out to be quite tasty--and over-the-top anime-style kitsch to boot!