Lapsang souchong (Chinese: 拉普山小種/正山小种,; pinyin: lāpǔshān xiǎozhǒng; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: l a̍p-pho·-san sió-chéng; literally "Small plant from Lapu mountain; Cantonese: làaipóusàan síujúng) is a black tea (Camellia sinensis) originally from the Wuyi region of the Chinese province of Fujian. It is sometimes referred to as smoked tea (熏茶). Lapsang is distinct from all other types of tea because lapsang leaves are traditionally smoke-dried over pine wood fires, taking on a distinctive smoky flavour.
The name in Minnan means "smoky sub-variety." Lapsang souchong is a member of the Wuyi Bohea family of teas. The story goes that the tea was created during the Qing era when the passage of armies delayed the annual drying of the tea leaves in the Wuyi hills. Eager to satisfy demand, 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.
Flavour and aromaEdit
High grade lapsang souchong possesses a taste of dried longan for the first few brews.
Lapsang souchong's flavour is strong and smoky, similar to the smell of a barbecue or campfire, or of Latakia pipe tobacco. The flavour of the pine smoke is meant to complement the natural taste of the black tea, but should not overwhelm it.
Tea merchants marketing to westerners note that this variety of tea generally produces a strong reaction—with most online reviews extremely positive or strongly negative.
Tea connoisseurs often note that Formosan lapsang souchong typically has a stronger flavour and aroma, the most extreme being tarry souchong (smoked, as the name implies, over burning pine tar).
Smoke roast (熏焙 xun bei): Roasting in a bamboo basket called honglong (烘笼) that is heated over burning firewood, which contributes to the dried longan aroma and smoky flavor. Pine tree was used as the firewood for lapsang souchong and contains the characteristic resin aroma and taste.
The unique aroma of lapsang souchong is due to a variety of chemical compounds. The two most abundant constituents of the aroma are longifolene and α-terpineol. Many of the compounds making up the aroma of lapsang souchong, including longifolene, originate only in the pine smoke, and are not found in other kinds of tea.
In American author James A. Michener's 1974 historical novel Centennial, Rocky Mountain fur trapper Alexander McKeag describes lapsang souchong as "a man's tea, deep and subtle and blended in some rugged place," ... "better even than whisky."
In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Captain Picard's tea of choice was originally intended by actor Patrick Stewart to be lapsang souchong, but was changed to Earl Grey by the writers, as it was more familiar with the American audience.
The hit TV show, The Mentalist, the protagonist's (Patrick Jane, an inveterate tea drinker) favorite tea is Lapsang Souchong.
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- ↑ Shan-Shan Yao, Wen-Fei Guo, YI Lu, Yuan-Xun Jiang, "Flavor Characteristics of Lapsang Souchong and Smoked Lapsang Souchong,a Special Chinese Black Tea with Pine Smoking Process", Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Vol. 53, No.22, (2005)
- ↑ Michener, James A. Centennial. New York: Random House. 1974. ISBN 0-394-47970-X