Lapsang Souchong, or Li Shan Xiao Zhong (立山小種) is a classic smoked tea that undergoes smoking over pine wood to produce a complex flavour with a smoky pine resin aroma. This is an organic production from spring 2017.
If you are not a big fan of smoky teas, why not try our ‘Usmoked Lapsang Souchong‘, also known as Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong!
The name of this tea that is most commonly known in the West is Lapsang Souchong and is a classic smoked tea that has gained huge popularity. The Mandarin name ‘Li Shan Xiao Zhong’ is pronounced as laap6 saan1 siu2 zung2 in Cantonese, which is the most probable origin of the now widely accepted Lapsang Souchong name in the West. The Chinese name for the tea literally means ‘Li Mountain Small Leaf’ and refers to the origin of the tea as well as the tea plant used in production. Here the overlap with the unsmoked version of this tea occurs, the type of plant that is used to produce both Lapsang Souchong (Li Shan Xiao Zhong) and Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong. While the latter unsmoked version is quite a recent development, the classic smoked Lapsang Souchong has been in existence for a much longer period of time.
Most sources consider that Lapsang Souchong was the first original black tea, superseding Keemun black tea. According to one of the legends, during the Qing Dynasty in the late 16th century, a small group of soldiers was passing through Wu Yi Shan. They were housed by a tea producer in a barn where he stored freshly picked leaves destined for his green tea. The soldiers decided to use the fresh tea leaves to make their beds with. In the morning all the leaves were crushed and started to oxidise, which meant that the farmer was no longer able to use the leaves for green tea and the harvest was completely ruined. In order to try to rescue the harvest, he decided to smoke the leaves to dry them out, producing a completely different tea during the process. While locally it was not accepted, the farmer was able to sell this new unusual tea at another tea market with great success. It seems that the success was largely due to the fact that they were able to sell it to Westerners, who to the great surprise of the Chinese farmers, greatly enjoyed the ‘ruined’ tea… As with many famous Chinese teas, it is hard to know where history ends and legends begin!
Our Lapsang Souchong, or Li Shan Xiao Zhong, comes from a fully organic production in the famous Tong Mu Village of the Wu Yi Mountain tea growing region. This tea has a characteristic smoky profile that Lapsang Souchong teas are famous for. It is achieved by smoking the tea leaves over pine wood fires. The dry leaves are medium sized and have a dominating smoky pine resin aroma. When brewed, the liquor has a dark amber colour and a pronounced smoky aroma that can be slightly overbearing on the first sip. However the smoky scent does not translate into an overwhelming smoky taste. Instead the taste has a degree of smokiness, however it does not completely overpower the taste of the tea as it happens in many lower grade smoked teas. The smoky aromas are very well offset by complex flavours that are sweet and clean with a mouth watering finish. The profile of this tea is peppery, spicy and mineral without any bitterness or astringency. The aftertaste is long lasting, smoky, tangy and spicy. This tea is very much like a walk on a crisp winter morning through a pine forest, catching the smell of a log fire in the distance.
It is best brewed at 90°C for 3-4 minutes according to your taste, reinfusing the leaves multiple times.