For this Lapsang Souchong, not the young leaves and the buds of the tea plant are plucked, but the riper and larger leaves that grow lower on the tea plant. Lapsang Souchong is known for its extremely distinctive taste that is incomparable to anything else. Upon opening the bag, you will immediately smell an intense smoked flavor. Dark hues emerge, and connoisseurs will describe these aromas as ‘leather’, ‘tar’, ‘smokey’, and ‘spicy’. The taste in the cup is described as: smoked, with notes of smoked paprika, pine tree, smoked wood, and overall spicy.
The particular smoked taste of this Lapsang Souchong is acquired through its specific production process. Lapsang Souchong is a Chinese black tea (from the Camellia Sinensis Sinensis and specifically from the Bohea cultivar) and therefore follows the traditional black tea production process, with one additional step. After fermentation, the leaves are smoked. There are different methods for this smoking and each specific method creates a different taste and a different aroma. It is this step of smoking that gives Lapsang Souchong its specific taste. A unique tea for enthusiasts.
The Origin of Lapsang Souchong
Legend has it that producing tea in this way was discovered by chance. A military unit from the Qing dynasty camped in a tea factory, and after the soldiers finally left, the workers did not have enough time to dry the tea in the traditional way. Therefore, they dried the leaves over a fire, which resulted in an entirely new flavor sensation. The tea smelled intense, but it was decided to sell the tea to Dutch traders anyway. They loved the taste and asked for more of this special type. Lapsang Souchong was born!
Originally, Lapsang Souchong comes from the Wuyi Mountains, from Fujian China, and is thus considered a Wuyi tea. But in the meantime, the tea is also grown elsewhere. Taiwan, for example, also makes Lapsang Souchong tea, generally labeled as ‘smoked teas’.
The name Lapsang Souchong comes from the Fuzhou dialect. ‘La’ means pine and ‘Sang’ means wood. Souchong refers to the type of tea leaf used and essentially means ‘the small kind’.
Did you know that for Lapsang Souchong, leaves lower than the typical ‘two leaves and a bud’ are sometimes used? Because the smokey flavor absorbs many of the aromas, picking lower leaves is often less frowned upon here.
How to Brew Lapsang Souchong?
- Temperature. Lapsang Souchong is a black tea, and it is best brewed just below boiling. For this specific Lapsang Souchong, 95 degrees Celsius (203 degrees Fahrenheit) is optimal.
- Amount. This Lapsang Souchong can be brewed in any way, but the Western method suits it best. Traditionally, we take 12 grams of loose tea leaves per liter of water.
- Steeping time. If using the Western method, it’s best to let it steep for about two minutes. Of course, you can experiment with this to obtain your perfect cup.
Lapsang Souchong Cocktail:
Ingredients for 1 cocktail:
- 40 ml Lapsang Souchong tea (Use 1 large teaspoon per cup of hot water)
- 40 ml Gin
- 180 ml tonic
- Plenty of ice
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- Put 1 teaspoon of Lapsang Souchong in a tea filter or tea egg and let it steep for about 5 minutes in a cup of hot water. Ideally 95 degrees Celsius (203 degrees Fahrenheit), but no worries if it’s 100 degrees. Then remove your tea filter and let the tea cool completely.
- You only need to use 40 ml of the tea. Save the rest in the refrigerator for more cocktails, for example.
- Put ice cubes in a cocktail glass and then add the cold Lapsang Souchong, followed by the gin, and top up with tonic.
- Finish your glass with a few sprigs of thyme.
Enjoy your tea and cocktail!