With its distinctive flavor and exceptional character, Lapsang Souchong stands out among its fellow black tea varieties. Unlike traditional black tea blends, which are simply dried after the leaves have been allowed to oxidize, Lapsang Souchong is roasted over a pinewood fire to impart a unique and smoky taste.
Where Did Lapsang Souchong Tea Originate?
Originally from the Wuyi region of Fujian province in China, Lapsang Souchong has an interesting history. It’s commonly believed that firing the leaves over pine was a necessary way to preserve the tea for shipping during the Qing dynasty in the 17th century. Local lore offers another take, stating that the smoking process was discovered by accident when bandits set fire to a tea farm in Tong Mu. So the story goes, tea stored in pine sheds was exposed to the smoke and thought to be ruined, but when Dutch traders tried the tea, they were amazed by its flavor and wanted more. Whether or not this story is true, lapsang souchong continues to be enjoyed all over the world to this day.
Characteristics of Lapsang Souchong
Compounds called longifolen and alpha-terpineol are just two of many that give lapsang souchong tea its unusual flavor. During the smoking process, these compounds increase as those responsible for the usual taste of black tea decrease. The end result is meant to strike a balance between the two flavors, with neither one overwhelming the other.
Lapsang souchong winds up smelling and tasting a bit like a barbecue, so it pairs well with salty and spicy foods. It can also be used to add flavor to meals whether mixed into a marinade or a smoked dish.
Steeping the Best Cup
As with any tea, it's best to start with fresh, cold water. Bring the water to a boil in a kettle or pan and run hot water into the pot or cup you intend to use to pre-warm it. This is done because cold vessels can cause temperature fluctuations in the tea that inhibit its full flavor.
HOW TO STEEP LAPSANG SOUCHONG TEA
- Measure one to two teaspoons per eight ounces of water into a metal infuser.
- Place the infuser into the pot or cup before pouring the hot water over it. Leaves can also be floated directly in the water to create a fuller flavor.
- Remove metal infuser and enjoy
If using a Tea Forte’s signature pyramid infuser, simply place the pyramid into your teaware and add the hot water.
Start with a short steeping time, about two or three minutes, and test the tea for flavor. Allow it to brew until it reaches your preferred point of smokiness, but avoid over-brewing as this will result in bitterness. Sweeten to taste or enjoy it unaccompanied, letting the smoky flavor speak for itself.
To peruse Tea Forte’s exquisite selection of black teas and discover your favorite cup, take a tour of our offerings and select a blend that intrigues you.