Lapsang Souchong tea (Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong in Chinese Pinyin) is a famous Chinese black tea, produced in Wuyi Mountains in Fujian Province.
It is the earliest Chinese black tea, with a history of more than 400 years. Sometimes it is called smoked tea because one of the processes of making it is smoking.
Lapsang Souchong was first called Wuyi Bohea in Europe. At that time, Wuyi Bohea is the symbol of Chinese tea. Byron, the famous British poet in the 17th century, said, “I feel my heart become so sympathetic. I must have recourse to black Bohea.” Black Bohea refers to Lapsang Souchong.
1. History of Lapsang Souchong tea
Tongmuguan is the core area of Wuyi Mountains National Nature Reserve. This area is like a reserved land, meaningful and silent. In the middle and late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), black tea was first born in Tongmuguan.
In 1569, in the season for picking tea leaves, an army passed Tongmuguan and 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 from Masson Pine to dry and smoke the fermented tea leaves to process it. Then, they shipped it to town for sale. Surprisingly, it was welcomed and loved by a large number of tea customers.
Immediately, the orders of this kind of tea increased gradually. It needed the 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 tea.
Around 1604, Dutch businessmen bought it into Europe. Then it became popular with the British royal family and even the whole Europe, and set off the “afternoon tea” fashion. Since then, Lapsang Souchong tea became the symbol of Chinese black tea in Europe.
The most glorious time of Lapsang Souchong tea was in the middle of the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912). According to historical records, 85% of the black tea exported from China is in the name of 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, which is now famous all over the world, is formed.
In the early 20th century, with the wars broke out, Lapsang Souchong tea was gradually reduced and it recovered and developed after the 1950s.
In 2002, Lapsang Souchong became a Chinese origin protection product.
2. Growth environment of Lapsang Souchong tea
Tongmuguan is the core producing area of Lapsang Souchong. Tongmuguan has a good ecological environment, with the reputation of “paradise of birds”, “kingdom of snakes”, “world of insects”, and “key to the biological gene pool of species”.
The average altitude of the tea producing area in Tongmuguan is about 1,000 meters, which is warm in winter and cool in summer. 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.
3. Characteristics of Lapsang Souchong tea
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 made by smoking with pine needles or pine wood. It has a very strong fragrance. Because of the smoking, the dried tea leaves are gray-black, but the tea soup is dark amber.
After brewing, Lapsang Souchong has the flavor of longan, which is a unique flavor of Lapsang Souchong tea. And the fragrance of it 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.
4. Varieties of Lapsang Souchong tea
Smoked and non-smoked Lapsang Souchong
According to whether or not using pine wood to dry the tea, it 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 color of non-smoked Lapsang Souchong looks bright red-brown, and the smoked one looks more deepen.
- Flavor: Both these two have a sweet taste. But the smoked Lapsang Souchong tea tastes sweeter and has the unique smoky aroma of the pine wood.
According to the shape of the finished Lapsang Souchong, there are some varieties:
- Broken tea: the shape is granular.
- Sliced tea: the shape is like auricle.
- Dust tea: the shape is like fine sand.
5. Health benefits of Lapsang Souchong tea
- Nourishing stomach
- Promoting appetite and digestion
- Anti-inflammation and sterilization
- Refreshing and eliminating fatigue