Lapsang souchong

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Lapsang souchong
Lapsang Souchong.jpg
Type Black

Origin Mount Wuyi, Fujian Province, China

Quick description Souchong smoked over pine fire, smoky taste.

Temperature boiling water (100°C or 212 F)
Time 2–3 minutes
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 立山小種
Simplified Chinese 立山小种
Literal meaning Coarse tea leaves from Li Mountain”
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 正山小種
Simplified Chinese 正山小种

Lapsang souchong (/ˌlæpsæŋ ˈsɒŋ/; simplified Chinese: 立山小种; traditional Chinese: 立山小種; pinyin: Lìshān xiǎo zhǒng) is a black tea (Camellia sinensis) originally from the Wuyi region of the Chinese province of Fujian. It is sometimes referred to as smoked tea (熏茶).[1] Lapsang is distinct from all other types of tea because lapsang leaves are traditionally smoke-dried over pinewood fires, taking on a distinctive smoky flavour.

Xiǎozhǒng or Siu2 zung2 (小种 / 小種) refers to the larger, coarser tea leaves lower on the branch.[citation needed] Lapsang souchong is a member of the Bohea family of teas though not an oolong, as are most Bohea teas ("Bohea" is the pronunciation in Minnan dialect for Wuyi Mountains, which is the mountain area producing a large family of tea in South-East China).[citation needed]

Lapsang souchong from the original source is increasingly expensive, as Wuyi is a small area and there is increasing demand for this variety of tea.[citation needed]


The story goes that the tea was created during the Qing era when the passage of armies delayed the annual drying of the tea leaves in the Wuyi Mountain. Eager to satisfy demand, the tea producers sped up the drying process by getting their workers to dry the leaves over fires made from local pines.[citation needed]

According to some sources, Lapsang souchong is the first black tea in history, even earlier than Keemun tea. After the lapsang souchong tea was used for producing black tea called Min Hong (meaning "Black tea produced in Fujian"), people started to move the tea bush to different places, such as Keemun, India and Ceylon.[citation needed]


“Souchong” (小种) refers to the fourth and fifth leaves of the tea plant, further away from the more highly prized bud (pekoe) of the tea plant. These leaves are coarser than the leaves closer to the bud and have fewer aromatic compounds. Smoking provides a way to create a marketable product from these less desirable leaves.[2]

The leaves are roasted in a bamboo basket called a hōnglóng (), which is heated over burning firewood, which contributes to the dried longan aroma and smoky flavour.[3] Pinewood is used as the firewood for lapsang souchong and contains the characteristic resin aroma and taste.


The aroma of lapsang souchong is derived from a variety of chemical compounds. The two most abundant constituents of the aroma are longifolene and α-terpineol. Many of the compounds making up the aroma of lapsang souchong, including longifolene, originate only in the pine smoke and are not found in other kinds of tea.[4]

Flavour and aroma[edit]

A black tea, lapsang souchong has a rich colour.

Lapsang souchong's flavours include dried longan,[citation needed] pine smoke and whiskey.[5]

It is common for even rather strongly brewed Lapsang Souchong tea to lack the bitterness common with other tea varieties.


Lapsang souchong has a high reputation outside China; it is viewed as "tea for Westerners" inside China. It was drunk by the likes of Winston Churchill[6] and Gary Snyder,[7] who referred to it in Mountains and Rivers Without End.

In Popular Culture[edit]

When told that his Captain Picard character would drink a lot of tea, Sir Patrick Stewart originally suggested that he drink Lapsang souchong, but the producers were afraid the audience wouldn't know what that was, so the character drank Earl Grey tea instead.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Smoked Tea". Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  2. ^ Delmas, F. X.; Minet, M.; Barbaste, C. (2008). The Tea Drinkers Handbook. Abbeville Press. pp. 49, 159. ISBN 978-0-7892-0988-7. 
  3. ^ "Lapsang Souchong Tea". Tea and Coffee. The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company. 21 September 2016. Retrieved 20 May 2017. 
  4. ^ Yao, S. S.; Guo, W. F.; Lu, Y.; Jiang, Y. X. (2005). "Flavor Characteristics of Lapsang Souchong and Smoked Lapsang Souchong, a Special Chinese Black Tea with Pine Smoking Process". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 53 (22): 8688–93. doi:10.1021/jf058059i. PMID 16248572. 
  5. ^ Perry, S. (2010). Tea Deck: 50 Ways to Prepare, Serve, and Enjoy. Chronicle Books. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-8118-7288-1. 
  6. ^ Heiss, M. L.; Heiss, R. J. (2011). The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide. Ten Speed. p. 133. ISBN 978-1-6077-4172-5. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ Mitchell, Ben (September 1998). "Patrick Stewart - Beavis and Butt-head's biggest fan on theft, tea and Tetris". Neon (UK Film Magazine). UK: EMAP. Retrieved 7 July 2017. 

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