Lapsang Souchong (正山小种, Zhèng Shān Xiǎo Zhǒng) is a famous Chinese black tea. It is native to the Wuyi Mountain in Fujian Province.
Lapsang Souchong is the earliest Chinese black tea, with a history of more than 400 years. It was originally first called Wuyi Bohea in Europe. At that time, Wuyi Bohea is the symbol of Chinese tea.
Sometimes Lapsang Souchong is called smoked tea because one of its processinges is smoking.
Table of Contents
- History of Lapsang Souchong
- Growth Environment of Lapsang Souchong
- Characteristics of Lapsang Souchong
- Types of Lapsang Souchong
- Benefits of Lapsang Souchong
History of Lapsang Souchong
Tongmuguan is the core area of Wuyi Mountain National Nature Reserve. In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), black tea was first born in Tongmuguan.
In 1569, during the tea picking season, an army passed Tongmuguan and was stationed there at night. The local tea farmers had never seen such a turbulent scene, so the fresh tea leaves picked that day did not have time to be processed. The next day, the fresh tea leaves had fermented.
In order to recover the loss, the tea farmers used the firewood of Masson Pine to dry and smoke the fermented tea leaves to process it. Surprisingly, after brewing, the tea has a good taste and a special fragrance. Then, they shipped it to town for sale. It was welcomed and loved by a large number of tea customers.
Immediately, the orders of this kind of tea increased gradually. It needed all tea farmers of Tongmuguan to produce this kind of tea so that it can barely meet the demands of the market. It is the origin of Lapsang Souchong.
Around 1604, Dutch merchants brought it to Europe. Later, it became popular in the British royal family and even throughout Europe, setting off the trend of “afternoon tea”. Since then, Lapsang Souchong has become a symbol of Chinese black tea in Europe.
The most glorious time of Lapsang Souchong was in the middle of the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912). According to historical records, 85% of the black tea exported from China is Lapsang Souchong.
While Lapsang Souchong enjoyed a good reputation abroad, the processing technology of Lapsang Souchong is gradually introduced to other provinces of China. And finally, Gongfu black tea was invented based on Lapsang Souchong.
In 2005, Jin Jun Mei tea was invented based on the traditional technology of Lapsang Souchong.
Growth Environment of Lapsang Souchong
Tongmuguan is the core production area of Lapsang Souchong. Tongmuguan has a good ecological environment, with the reputation of “paradise of birds”, “kingdom of snakes”, “world of insects”, and “the key to the biological gene pool of species”. The average altitude of the tea production area in Tongmuguan is about 1,000 meters. It belongs to a typical subtropical monsoon climate.
The content of carbon dioxide in the production area is only 0.026%. The fog days are more than 100 days a year, and the clouds are all around in spring and summer. The soil is fertile, loose, rich in water, and the content of organic matter is high. This superior natural environment is very suitable for the growth of Lapsang Souchong.
Characteristics of Lapsang Souchong
Lapsang Souchong is called Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong in Chinese pinyin. “Xiao Zhong” means a kind of small-leaf tea. In order to distinguish the real Lapsang Souchong and other fake ones, the local tea farmers called the real Lapsang Souchong “Zheng Shan” which means “authentic”.
Lapsang Souchong is smoked with pine needles or pine wood, so it has a very strong fragrance. Because of the smoking, the dried tea leaves are gray-black, but the tea liquid is dark amber.
After brewing, Lapsang Souchong has the flavor of longan, which is a unique flavor of Lapsang Souchong. And its fragrance will not reduce even if add milk into it. Mixing milk with Lapsang Souchong will become a cup of milk black tea, which is a good drinking method.
Types of Lapsang Souchong
Smoked and Non-Smoked Lapsang Souchong
According to whether or not using pine wood to dry the tea leaves, Lapsang Souchong can be classified into smoked and non-smoked Lapsang Souchong. Here are the differences between them:
- Color: smoked Lapsang Souchong tea leaves look darker than non-smoked ones. The tea liquid of non-smoked Lapsang Souchong looks bright red-brown, and the smoked one looks darker.
- Taste: Both these two have a sweet taste. But the smoked Lapsang Souchong tastes sweeter and has the unique smoky aroma of the pine wood.
According to the shape of the finished Lapsang Souchong, there are some other types:
- Broken tea: the shape is granular.
- Sliced tea: the shape is like an auricle.
- Dust tea: the shape is like fine sand.