Lapsang Souchong tea originated in the Wuyi Mountains in the Fujian province of China, where it is also known as Zhengshan Xiaozhong (正山小种), meaning ‘Proper Mountain Small Varietal’. According to legend, this tea was created by accident during the Qing dynasty, when tea farmers had to hastily dry their leaves over a fire to escape from invading soldiers. The smoke from the fire infused the leaves with a unique flavour that appealed to Dutch traders, who brought the tea to Europe and other parts of the world.
Lapsang Souchong tea is made from the larger and more mature leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, which have a different chemical composition than the younger leaves used for other teas. The leaves are first withered and oxidized, then twisted and rolled into tight strips. The final step is to dry the leaves over a fire of pinewood or cypress wood, which imparts the characteristic smoky aroma and taste to the tea. The intensity of the smoke can vary depending on the distance and duration of the drying process.
Lapsang Souchong tea has a dark brown colour and a full-bodied flavour that can be enjoyed in different ways. You can brew it for 4 to 5 minutes in boiling water or adjust the steeping time according to your preference. You can drink it plain, or add lemon, milk, or sugar if you like. Some people also use Lapsang Souchong tea as an ingredient for soups, stews, sauces or marinades, as it adds a rich and smoky flavour to dishes.
Lapsang Souchong tea is not for everyone, but if you are adventurous and curious, you might find it a fascinating and satisfying tea experience. It is a tea that evokes memories of campfires and whiskey, and it has a complex and intriguing taste that can be enjoyed at any time of the day.