What an underrated tea. And I am the worst culprit. For years, I avoided this tea because of its overpowering smokey scent—I just couldn’t bring myself to buy it and drink it. When I was choosing tea for the Studio, I chose an organic source, still not really knowing what true character (besides the smoke) I was looking for in the tea. To my surprise, customers came in asking to buy Lapsang Souchong –they were more interested in this tea than any others on my shelves. I asked how they like to prepare it and most say they drink it with milk and sugar and that they have been drinking this tea since they were children– it was an every-day tea in their household.
Lapsang Souchong or Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong (Zheng Mountain Small leaf Variety Black Tea) is originally from Fujian Provence. It is a smokey scented/flavored tea from the Tong Mu village area of Wu Yi Shan. The tea leaves are processed with the heat and smoke of pine fires to give it the characteristic strong scent and flavor. Today’s Lapsang Souchong is stronger tasting than the original 19th century tea—it is more heavily smoked and the tea leaves are likely to be from a large-leaf cultivar versus the small leaf original.
So! I took some home and steeped it then added steamed milk (microwave) and agave. Oh, my goodness… it was so divine…like a creamy campfire in my mouth. If you really want to have a sensory experience try Lapsang Souchong with milk and sweetener—you won’t be disappointed. I never expected this tea to be so delightful. It may not be the same tea the Chinese originally created, but is worth the attention to experience.