Posted in Kafevend Blog
When I tried lapsang souchong a few weeks ago I had a bit of a marmite moment. The smell of the leaves before hand and the whiff of them brewing perhaps should have warned me, but one sip told me all I need to know- I won't be having any of this again. That is not to say that it is a bad tea- I've heard from a few people who say that they enjoy it- but I definitely think it's a "love it or hate it" kind of a deal.
Lapsang souchong is originally from the region around the Wuyi mountains in the Fujian province in China, which lies along the country's south eastern coast. It was during the Qing dynasty, as the story of its origin goes, that villagers preparing tea for an army that was passing through felt they needed to speed up the drying process to meet demand. To achieve this they dried the tea leaves over a fire using wood from the pine trees nearby, imparting a smoky flavour.
Unlike the more highly regarded pu-erh tea, the Chinese do not generally like lapsang souchong, and instead see it as a "tea for Westerners", as it is much more popular abroad. Amusingly, lapsang souchong is made using the inferior fourth and fifth leaves of the tea plant, and the smoking process is seen as a way to make them marketable- no doubt the Chinese were amused that they could fob off what they perceived as sub-par tea on the daft Europeans!