Lapsang souchong is a black tea originally from the Wuyi region of the Chinese province of Fujian. It is sometimes referred to as smoked tea. Lapsang is distinctive from all other types of tea because lapsang leaves are traditionally smoke-dried over pinewood fires, taking on a distinctive smoky flavour.
The name in Fukienese means "smoky variety" or more correctly "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.
Lapsang souchong's flavour is strong and smoky, similar to the smell of a campfire or of Latakia pipe tobacco. Another word to describe the taste is creosote, which should have a positive connotation. 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.
Lapsang souchong imparts a smoky flavour to oven roasted ribs even when the oven is kept at a temperature low enough to achieve a tender roast. Because of this quality, Chinese cooks smoke a variety of foodstuffs over smoldering black tea.
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