Updated: Mar 23, 2020
Lapsang souchong is known to be the ancestor of black teas and thought to be invented during the Ming dynasty (1560ies) when a tea farmer decided to use pine wood to save the teas he plucked that were too much fermented for making green tea which was the only tea produced. Lapsang souchong is well known in the West for its distinctive smoky flavour.
The processing of Lapsang Souchong is as follows:
Fresh leaves --> sun withering --> twisting --> fermentation --> black-processing pot (fixation) --> re-twisting --> baking
Black-processing pot stops the tea fermentation while preserving the tea polyphenols. It also makes the colour of the liquor reddish and more flavoursome. Throughout the baking process, songmu wood is used and the amount of roasting determines the level of smokiness. This Lapsang Souchong was one of the strongest ones I have ever tested. When I smelled the dried leaves, I was expecting even a stronger flavour which translated into a fainter taste for the better, I think. This tea is given different names based on its level of smokiness, for instance, the least smoky version is called Tedeng and its flavour is said to be more complex encompassing fruity and sweet notes apart from smokiness.
No buds are used for Lapsang Souchong. If you wonder what happens to the buds, you can read my post about Jin Jun Mei one of the most expensive teas in the world. Which one is your cuppa?
Source: Hong Li, Tea and Tea Set, China Intercontinental press, World Culture Books
Type: Black tea
Harvest time: 2019
Leave colour: Dark brown with reddish edges
Liquor colour: Amber
Tea aroma: Pine smokiness
Tea taste: Strong and smoky
Steeping/brewing: You can use 90-100°C water temperature and brew for up to one minute in gongfu style or up to three minutes in Western-style. You can brew the leaves many times (until the taste is lost). To each infusion add additional time. Experiment for a result that suits your taste.
Shelf life: Up to 1 year (to improve shelf life store the sealed tea leaves in a dry, dark place with low temperatures)