Lapsang souchong is a black tea from the Fujian province in China. Historically considered a "man's tea", Lapsang souchong (or lapsang for short) is considered to be one of the strongest varieties of tea.
"Souchong" means sub-variety, to differentiate Lapsang souchong from other black teas in the region.
Lapsang souchong tea leaves are dark with a golden tip. Lapsang souchong has an amber-red color when brewed. Lapsang souchong has a bold, assertive and smoky flavor, with a touch of a sweet fruit from China called longan. Lapsang souchong is said to be the best compliment to spicy or salty foods.
Lapsang souchong is used as part of Earl Grey tea.
Some drinkers have purported that Lapsang Souchong is especially suited for drinking after intense physical activity, such as hiking, distance running or rock climbing.
History of Lapsang Souchong
A legend claims that Lapsang souchong was discovered by accident.
During the Qing dynasty, one army camped in a tea factory one evening, while there were fresh leaves waiting processing. After the soldiers had left, the tea workers realized there was not enough time for the leaves to dry before they could arrive at the market on time. To hasten the drying process, the workers lit pine wood and hung the leaves over the fire.
The tea did arrive at the market on time, and did far better than the workers had anticipated. The smoked flavor created a sensation, and the tea quickly became well-known.
Production of Lapsang Souchong
Lapsang souchong is oxidized for a long time, and undergoes several stages of production.
After the leaves are harvested, they are withered over pine or cedar fires, before being pan-fried, rolled and fully oxidized. After the leaves are oxidized, the Lapsang souchong is then placed in bamboo baskets and fully dried over burning pine.
Due to the amount of burning involved in the production of Lapsang souchong, the tea has sometimes been described has having an "oak" flavor.