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.
THIS IS THE HIGHEST QUALITY YOU CAN GET! GREAT FLAVOR AND AROMA WILL KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF.
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