|Origin||Mount Wuyi, Fujian Province, China|
|Quick description||Souchong smoked over pine fire, smoky taste.|
|Temperature||boiling water (100°C or 212° F)|
|Literal meaning||“Coarse tea leaves from the Upright Mountains”|
|Alternative Chinese name|
|Literal meaning||“Coarse tea leaves from Li Mountain”|
Lapsang souchong (/
Xiǎozhǒng or Siu2 zung2 (小種) refers to the larger, coarser tea leaves that are found lower on the branch. Lapsang souchong is a member of the Bohea family of teas, but is not an Oolong tea, as most Bohea teas are. ("Bohea" is the pronunciation in Minnan dialect for Wuyi Mountains, which is the mountain area that produces a large family of tea in South-East China).
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 process by drying the leaves over fires made from local pines.
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.
“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.
The leaves are roasted in a bamboo basket called a hōnglóng (烘笼), which is heated over burning firewood, which contributes to the dried longan aroma and smoky flavour. Pinewood is used as the firewood for lapsang souchong and imparts the characteristic resiny 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.
Flavour and aroma
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 an export tea inside China and not liked by producers. It was drunk by Winston Churchill and Gary Snyder, who referred to it in Mountains and Rivers Without End.
In popular culture
- When told that his Captain Picard character from Star Trek: The Next Generation would drink a lot of tea, Sir Patrick Stewart originally suggested that he drink Lapsang souchong, but the producers were afraid the audience would not know what that was, so the character drank Earl Grey tea instead.
- "Smoked Tea". silvertipstea.com. Retrieved 2012-07-09.
- Delmas, F. X.; Minet, M.; Barbaste, C. (2008). The Tea Drinkers Handbook. Abbeville Press. pp. 49, 159. ISBN 978-0-7892-0988-7.
- "Lapsang Souchong Tea". Tea and Coffee. The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company. 21 September 2016. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
- 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.
- "Lapsang Souchong Tea". www.flavorandfortune.com. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
- "Lapsang Souchong Tea - Smoked Chinese Black Tea". Retrieved 2018-05-31.
- Perry, S. (2010). Tea Deck: 50 Ways to Prepare, Serve, and Enjoy. Chronicle Books. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-8118-7288-1.
- "Lapsang Souchong, The Original Version". January 24, 2018. Retrieved March 24, 2019.
- 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.
- "Mill Valley Literary Review magazine for writers readers".
- 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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