Pronounced “lop-song sue-chong”, Lapsang Souchong is a black tea from the Fujian province of China and is sometimes referred to as smoked tea. Inside China Lapsang Souchong is generally considered as a "tea for Westerners". Lapsang Souchong has become well known outside of China especially in western European markets.
According to some tea experts Lapsang Souchong may be the first black tea in history, even predating Keenmun tea. Lapsang Souchong was first produced as a black tea called Min Hong which in Fujian translates to "Black tea produced in Fujian". The Fujian word 'souchong' means subvariety – as in this is a subvariety of other black teas from the Fujian region. In addition for this tea the lower 4th and 5th leaves of this tea bush are most frequently used, further down from the more highly prized pekoe (buds). These leaves tend to be coarser and less aromatic than leaves closer to the bud.
As with many spices some of these tea bushes were eventually transported and grown in places like Ceylon and Keenum India.
This brash, aromatic, strongly flavored black tea gets its character from real smoke. While most teas go through a natural drying process (i.e. laid out to air dry), Lapsang Souchong is essentially force dried by wood fire. This “campfire” process is where the leaves are withered over pine wood or sometimes cypress wood before pan-firing and rolling which is what makes it a black tea. The tea leaves are then carefully stored to allow them to ferment. After fermentation they are fired again. The end result is more smoky than woody.
Legend has it that the smoking process was discovered unintentionally as during the Qing dynasty, a troop of soldiers passed through a village in Xingchun on their journey and lodged for the night in a tea factory where fresh leaves were waiting to be processed. Once the soldiers left the workers scrambled to get back to processing the tea in time for market. To make up for lost time they force dried the leaves with fires of pine wood. They made the market in time and the result was an infused smoky tea leave that proved to be both unique and well received.
Lapsang Souchong tea has a signature smoky aroma and flavor and many serious tea lovers believe that it is an acquired taste. For less experienced tea drinkers this is often a love or hate tea. Often it is discarded as a lesser quality tea after the first cup or two by first time tea drinkers for being overly aggressive and smoky. But you should really allow yourself time to experiment with several cups' worth steeped at different lengths before passing final judgment, so that you don’t mistake unexpected flavor with dislike.
Lansang Souchong is also used as an ingredient in spice blends due to its smoky characteristics.
The flavor profile of Lapsang Souchong is really more than just its savory smoky aroma. You’ll find a crisp flavor with hints of sweet pine, floral, cloves, citrus and vanilla.
The color or infusion of the tea is lush, bright coppery with amber to reddish hues.
Unlike many teas we only recommend infusing Lapsang Souchong once as the flavors tend to degrade quickly rather than unfold with additional infusions.
The steep time you choose with your Lapsang Souchong can produce dramatically different results. While recommended steep times range from 2-5 minutes at 210° we suggest that the first couple of times you try this tea you start off on the lower end (2 minutes). If you steep too long your tea will be more astringent, bitter and overpowering. You should experiment and adjust both your steeping time and the amount of tea used until you find your ideal flavor profile. With just the right touch you’ll discover subtle differences can be found in smokiness, sweetness as well as in the nuanced floral and fruit notes.
Steep at 212° for 3-5 minutes.
Caffeine level is medium.
All of our tea bags are made with unbleached tea filter paper. They are approximately 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" and have no strings or tags.
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Tea was reportedly discovered in China around 2737 B.C. by The Emperor Chen Nung when a tea leaf fell into his bowl of hot water. This tradition of tea drinking became an integral part of society and was the preferred beverage for all walks of life; from monks and mandarins to the nomadic tribesmen who traded horses for bricks of tea. The Japanese may have transformed tea drinking into a sacred ceremony; however, the Chinese are credited with initiating the time honored ritual of offering a guest a cup of tea as a sign of hospitality.
Scented teas have been around for a long time and are produced according to ancestral recipes. Before the advent of essential oil extracts one of the easiest scents to duplicate was ‘Rose’. The plantations would literally cut the rose blossoms from the plants bordering fields and pathways and sprinkle these into the tea. The result was a delicate but finely flavored tea. Today the practice remains virtually the same, but essential oils are used to speed up the scenting process and freshly cut flowers are added to the tea for visual effects. The result is a delightfully attractive leaf accented with rose petals combined with the refreshing cleansing flavor of roses. The next time a guest drops by, why not offer a truly special cup of hospitality accented with the scent and petals of roses.
Hot tea brewing method: Bring freshly drawn cold water to a rolling boil. Place 1 teaspoon of tea for each cup into the teapot. Pour the boiling water into the teapot. Cover and let steep for 3-7 minutes according to taste (the longer the steeping time the stronger the tea). We recommend adding milk and sugar (if this is to your taste), but if you prefer your tea ‘straight-up’ it is equally acceptable and enjoyable.
Iced tea brewing method: (to make 1 liter/quart): Place 5 teaspoons of tea into a teapot or heat resistant pitcher. Pour 1 1/4 cups of freshly boiled water over the tea. Steep for 5 minutes. Quarter fill a serving pitcher with cold water. Pour the tea into your serving pitcher straining the leaves. Add ice and top up the pitcher with cold water. Garnish and sweeten to taste. [A rule of thumb when preparing fresh brewed iced tea is to double the strength of hot tea since it will be poured over ice and diluted with cold water]
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