Lapsang Souchong

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Lapsang Souchong is a lightly smoked Chinese black tea that is traditionally produced from coarsely harvested teas - su-chong - are dried over burning spruce.

Legend has it that it was discovered by accident in Fujian Province in the early 19th century: a tea grower was forced by the government to give up his warehouse, but did not want to lose his latest harvest; however the tea leaves were still moist so he dried them quickly over spruce that was burning nearby, which gave it a smoky taste; no locals would buy the tea leaves until a foreign merchant took them and sent them back to Europe where they became popular.

Lapsang souchong is a fermented black tea with a large, brittle leaf and a smoky aroma and taste, resulting from the fermented broad leaves being smoked over a fire of spruce wood. The strongest souchongs come from Taiwan, with a dense flavour of burnt tyres. Chinese lapsang souchong has more quality, is better made and has a crisp, brisk smokiness. Lapsang souchong tea bags are far too strong and taste artificial, even compared to the burnt tyre taste of Taiwanese tarry souchong.

Both orthodox types of lapsang souchong should be drunk very lightly brewed, without milk - use only a pinch of lapsang souchong tea leaves per pot.

Infusion

  • Quantity: 1 teaspoon (2½ g) per cup or person
  • Water temperature: 85oC (195oF)
  • Brew time: 3 - 5 minutes

Further Reading