Updated: Jun 28
What is Lapsang Souchong Tea?
Black teas have been around for centuries or perhaps even for thousands of years and most tea drinkers are familiar with the classic black teas such as Earl Grey, Breakfast Tea, Black Darjeeling, and Assam, but Lapsang Souchong is a classic that is often overlooked. What is lapsang souchong black tea, and what makes it different from the other classic black teas?
Sometimes described as the liquor of the tea world, Lapsang Souchong’s distinctive flavor comes from the unique method of smoking the tea over a pinewood fire. This traditional Chinese tea, also known, as Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong brings a unique flavor to the black tea world.
Where is Lapsang Souchong Tea From?
Lapsang Souchong is from the Wuyi Mountains in the Fujian province of China. The cultivars of tea in this region are of the Bohea variety, one of the oldest types of tea varieties. Produced totally by hand, only a few tea farms in this mountainous region still produce Lapsang Souchong.
How is Lapsang Souchong Tea Produced?
The creation of Lapsang Souchong is one of the few teas still produced in the traditional method which has been used for hundreds of years. Most tea processing in China has been modernized and mechanized, but Lapsang Souchong is still processed by hand.
The process of creating any black tea involves the steps of withering, drying, and oxidizing the tea leaves. Most Chinese teas are dried by pan-firing using a wok which gives the tea a slight smokiness. Lapsang Souchong is unique in that it is not pan-fired and that the withering and drying process is the same process and occurs over a fire.
Another unique feature of Lapsang Souchong is the leaves which are harvested from the Camellia sinensis plant. Instead of picking the fresh new buds, leaves several layers below the buds are picked. Since the leaves will be smoked over a pine fire, the less aromatic leaves are ideal for absorbing the notes of that fire. This allows tea growers an additional harvest as these are leaves that are not used for other teas.
After the leaves are picked, they are placed in a bamboo basket over a pinewood fire to wither. Leaves are next placed in barrels to ferment and further oxidize before again being placed over a fire to roast and completely dry.
What does Lapsang Souchong Taste Like?
Of course, Lapsang Souchong has a smoky flavor, but we find it also has notes of chiles as well as whisky. It tends to be a light-bodied tea with a short finish. The smoky flavors of Lapsang Souchong are much stronger and different from the smoky notes found in wok-finished teas.
We especially enjoy drinking Lapsang Souchong Tea when eating heavier grilled meats. It makes an interesting iced and sweetened tea for a BBQ.
Lapsang Souchong Tea is often overlooked in the black tea world but is a tea that all tea connoisseurs should try at least once. It may just become one of your tried and true favorites!
At SpiceTopia, we are proud to offer this uniquely traditional black tea!
Heiss, Mary Lou; Heiss, Robert J. (2007). The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide