Lapsang souchong tea hails from the Wuyi Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Fujian Province of China. The region is famous for its mineral-rich soil, which imbues the tea with distinct qualities.
The Wuyi Mountains are also home to many tea plantations producing other famous teas such as Da Hong Pao, a type of oolong tea. The misty, mountainous terrain and unique climate create an optimal environment for growing high-quality tea leaves.
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According to legend, lapsang souchong was first produced during the Ming Dynasty in the 17th century when war disrupted tea production in the region. The tea makers had to find a quick and efficient way to dry the tea leaves and they discovered that smoking the tea leaves over pine wood fires accelerated the drying process.
The tea was also then exported to Europe where it became a popular tea, particularly in England.
The production of lapsang souchong tea starts with the plucking of young tea leaves. The tea leaves are laid out on bamboo trays and smoked over pinewood fires, infusing them with the resinous aroma of the wood.
The leaves are then rolled, oxidized, and dried.
The final step often involves smoking the tea leaves again to enhance the smoky flavor.
Taste and Aroma
Lapsang souchong is known for its smoky, robust, and slightly sweet flavor. The tea has a strong aroma and a full-bodied taste that can be enjoyed on its own or with a light snack. It is also used in cooking and baking, adding a smoky flavor to dishes. Some people describe the taste as reminiscent of campfire smoke or whiskey, making it a popular tea for those who enjoy a strong and flavorful cup of tea.
Lapsang Souchong’s bold and smoky flavor lends itself well to food pairings. Its robust character complements hearty dishes, such as roasted meats, smoked salmon, or barbecue. The tea also pairs well with strong cheeses, dark chocolate, and fruit preserves.