Lapsang SouChong (Special Grade)

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Black Tea
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Edit tea info Last updated by Thomas Smith
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205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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  • “Never thought I’d be wishing I bought a larger quantity of Lapsang. This is utterly incomparable to any tea bearing the same name that I have ever seen, tasted, or even heard of. First, and...” Read full tasting note

From Foruntay Tea (

Black Tea- Lapsang SouChong

Other Name: ZhengShanXiaoZhong, 正山小种

Origin: WuYi, FuJian Province

Description: 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 souchongs is distinct from all other types of tea because lapsang souchong leaves are traditionally smoke-dried over pinewood fires, taking on a distinctive smoky flavour. The name in Fukienese 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.

Taste: High quality of lapsang souchong possesses a taste of dried Longan for the first few brews. Its’ flavour is strong and smoky, similar to the smell of a campfire or of Latakia pipe tobacco.

How to brew: When drunk by itself, black tea is prepared by first cleaning the tea ware, then putting a certain amount of tea leaves into a teapot with a teaspoon, and finally pouring in boiling water at about 90 degrees celsius from a kettle lifted high above the teapot at a proportion of 50 to 60 ml of water to one gram of dried leaves. In order to maintain the original flavor of tea, we suggest you’ d better draw the tea 7-8 times at most.

Harvest Period: Spring, 2010

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1 Tasting Note

93 tasting notes

Never thought I’d be wishing I bought a larger quantity of Lapsang. This is utterly incomparable to any tea bearing the same name that I have ever seen, tasted, or even heard of.

First, and foremost – it is not smoky. There are light whiffs of toasted marshmallows, wheat bread just finishing cooking in an oven, or a very hot smokeless oak fire oven/grill, but really it is more about the light “smokiness” of tobacco leaves and milled grains. Pay little heed to the company description of “strong and smoky”!

While this is not a pure bud tea (two leaf and a bud intact sets are common throughout) it is entirely covered in light golden hair. Leaf length and color is very similar to a pure bud Yunnan red. Measuring the 4g I used for my gaiwan resulted in a volume around 1.5-2 tablespoons. Used 125ml with steep times-temps: 1.5min-95C, 2.5min-95C, 4min-90C, 5min-85C, 5min-100C, 9.5min-85C.

Dry fragrance is similar to the Golden Monkey reds I’ve been going through a lot lately – dried apricot and nectarine – but when tossed into the prewarmed gaiwan, the fragrance was straight up natural cocoa powder. Wet leaves like doused, burned hardwood – not smoky, but toasty with a refreshing light char note oddly reminiscent of grilled Tilapia (not fishy, mind you) and indiscernible fruit “ripeness”. The lid from the gaiwan, however combined a touch of the former cocoa with piles of ripe fruit aromas. Kumquat above the rest, but also white peach, uncut nectarine, longan, intact raspberries, black figs, apricot kiwi, and just a hint of avocado and coconut. These carry through in the liquor aroma but longan takes the stage. Liquor is bright red-orange and very clear.

Flavor takes the fruit notes and blends them nicely with roasted nuts – almonds and macadamias primarily, but chestnut, cashew, brazil nut, pecan, and peanut also play a small part. The taste is a base of woody characteristics – brown rice, sesame seed, dried grasses, barley, oak, sunflower seeds and palms. Aftertaste brings in a mineral quality of adobe clay or mud bricks and a bit of gravel in the afteraroma. Not heavy on the minerals, but it certainly draws up similarities to other WuYi Shan teas. Nice heavier-medium body is much thicker than most Lapsangs, on par with heavier Keemuns. Smoooooooth. Mouthfeel again makes me think of clay in a sort of slip-slurry. There’s a very slight astringency just up against the uvula… Don’t think I’ve had a tea that hits that part of the mouth and nowhere else. Fleeting crispness and faint herbaceous acidity leaves a mouthwatering effect, but not a ton. Really clean – - aftertaste diminishes really quickly and afteraroma is short. impression of the tactile elements lingers for a while, though.

Man, this is yummy. Definitely getting more the next chance I can make the excuse. Expensive, but oh so worth it. I brewed this up with the intent of something to kick me awake, but it wound up being comforting and satisfying, making me want to curl up and take a nap. I finished long before the tea did and this would be a great candidate to drink straight from the gaiwan with. Again, you can not compare this to other Lapsangs – this is much more akin to specialty Taiwanese Reds.

205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 30 sec

a non lapsang lapsang, perhaps it’s for me?

Thomas Smith

Well, it is still the same tea, just rigorously graded, carefully processed, and not as heavily smoked. The breakdown of the name Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong just means “original mountain small kind,” with small-kind referring to the leaf size and originally the tea wasn’t produced with heavy smoke though it’s become the norm.
Of course, the 50g I got may not be representative of a larger quantity or next year’s batch.

Thomas Smith

You really ought to give it a try.


Gorgeous leaves. And this sounds amazing.


when my poor little tea bookcase shrinks i may have to….i think it’s the heavily smoked bit that gets me i always wonder what caught on fire

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