The Beginners’ Guide to Lapsang Souchong – Everything You Should Know

Interested in expanding your tea preferences? Lapsang souchong tea is a great option for any tea drinker. But what is lapsang souchong black tea, and what makes it different from the other types of tea available from Revolution Tea? Learn more about this bold, flavorful tea leaf below, and see why it’s such a great choice for any adventurous tea drinker!

What Is Lapsang Souchong? Understanding the Basics

Lapsang souchong is a special type of oxidized black tea that comes from China. It was originally created in the mountainous Wuyi region of China, located in the Fujian province.

History suggests this tea was first created when civilians in the Wuyi area were fleeing from Qing dynasty soldiers. They quickly dried fresh picked tea leaves over fires and then buried the tea in sacks to ensure it did not spoil until they were able to return.

The name “lapsang souchong” comes from the traditional Fuzhou dialect. In this dialect, “souchong” means “small sort,” referring to the smaller black tea leaves that are plucked for use in lapsang souchong tea. “La” refers to pine, and the word “sang” means wood.

Put these terms together and lapsang souchong means “small sort pine wood” – referring to the pine smoking method used to create this special type of tea.

Lapsang Souchong Tea

What Does Lapsang Souchong Taste Like? Bold, Smoky & Completely Unique

Lapsang souchong is unlike any other type of tea. It is a common misunderstanding to expect lapsang souchong to taste like a standard black tea. Some people assume this because both lapsang souchong and black tea come from the Camellia sinensis shrub. However, this is untrue!

Due to the unique oxidation process, lapsang souchong has a sweet, refreshing, yet smoky flavor unique to this tea. It’s imbued with the flavor of pine resin, since pine needles and pine wood are burned to smoke and dry the tea during the process of crafting lapsang souchong.

When brewed properly, it will have a coppery-golden color in your cup, and an appealing, smoky scent. You can enjoy lapsang souchong on its own, or with the addition of your favorite sweetener such as sugar or honey, and milk like almond milk, soy milk, dairy milk, or coconut milk – there’s no wrong way to drink it!

In fact, some lapsang souchong enthusiasts swear by using maple syrup to sweeten their tea! The natural caramel and vanilla notes in natural maple syrup make it a great compliment to the smoky, piney flavor of the tea.

Brewed Lapsang Souchong Tea

How Is Lapsang Souchong Made? How the Process Works

Lapsang souchong is made of black tea leaves, just like many other types of tea. The main difference between other teas and lapsang souchong is the flavor and unique smell through the preparation of this tea. The creation of lapsang souchong involves extensive oxidation that changes the flavor profile and creates its smoky “pine” flavor. Below is a step-by-step guide to the lapsang souchong process from harvest to cup.

  • Hand-picking & drying – First, high-quality tea leaves are hand-picked and then placed in bamboo baskets (honglongs) over a pine wood fire to dry them and eliminate most of the moisture. In some processes, this is done using bamboo floor mats in a “smoke house,” but the basic principle is the same – exposure to heat and smoke helps dry the tea leaves and infuses them with flavor.

  • Oxidation – The tea leaves are rolled to break up the cell walls and packed into bags or wooden barrels to oxidize for up to 5-6 hours, providing them with a unique and smokey flavor.

  • “Frying” and rolling – To halt oxidation, the leaves are “pan-fried” quickly to sear the cell walls, and then they are rolled again, giving them their characteristic shape.

  • Final drying – As a final step, the tea leaves are placed into bamboo baskets again, and are dried over a fire infused with pine needles to further enhance the flavor and eliminate any remaining moisture. This step takes about 8-12 hours.

Where Can I Buy Lapsang Souchong Black Tea? 

At Revolution Tea, our products are made using traditional methods and are crafted from the finest tea leaves, resulting in a unique flavor that’s sure to become your next favorite! Shop now to find our full selection of black teas and other black tea products.

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