I am always surprised by the popularity of smoky tea. There are some very definite devotees to this unusual type of tea flavour.
Of the small range of smoky tea, Lapsang Souchong is undisputedly the best, or the smokiest.
The classic smoky tea from China, Lapsang Souchong, is well known all around the world for its unique taste and aroma – its very bold taste is often compared to the taste of cigar and smoked food.
I have always wondered about Lapsang Souchong. Chinese are not generally big on smoky flavours in food and drink.
As a Chinese from Hong Kong, and fluent in Chinese, I found this name sound quite unusual. The sound of the name implies to me it wasn’t translated from the usual Mandarin or Cantonese dialect, as opposed other usual Chinese names.
I dug deeper and found out Lapsang Souchong is in fact a FuJian dialect. Lapsang is 正山 – referring to s, and Souchong is the name of the particular tea tree (Camellia Sinensis) sub-species – 小種 – small plant from Lapu Mountain.
Lapsang souchong is a member of the Wuyi Bohea family of teas. During the Qing Dynasty, when an army passed the Wuyi hills in the FuJian province. Eager to satisfy this sudden demand of food and drink, the tea producers sped up the drying process by having their workers dry the tea leaves over fires made from local pines.
Lapsang souchong from the original source is increasingly expensive, as Wuyi is a small area and there is increasing interest in this variety of tea.
Note: if you “Tarry” in front of Lapsang Souchong, it is the same tea. French means “smoked”, so Tarry Lapsang Souchong just a fancy name