Lapsang Souchong: A Smoky Symphony in Your Teacup

May 9, 2024
Lapsang soucjong tea in a ceramic mug
What makes Lapsang Souchong unique? Let me ask you. And if you are familiar with this tea, I expect one unique answer. Well, the speciality of this beautiful tea is nothing but its distinct smoky flavour, achieved through an extraordinary pine wood smoking process.
With this unorthodox & distinctive smoky flavour and aroma, the tea stands out among many different types of tea worldwide. Originating from the Wuyi region of China, this unique tea has garnered a loyal following worldwide. This article delves into the origins, flavour profile, health benefits and many other essential features of the Lapsang Souchong tea. Let's get started.

Origins and History of Lapsang Souchong Tea

Legend has it that Lapsang Souchong was accidentally discovered during the Qing Dynasty in China. The first black tea kind originated in China, deviating from the green tea culture that prevailed from its inception. The origin story is as interesting as the tea itself and is said to be an accidental discovery.
According to the story, the local Wuyi region farmers could not finish processing their tea leaves on the day due to the arrival of the army. These leaves were to be processed into green tea as usual but had gone through an extra oxidation phase due to the time-lapse. Yet, one wise farmer decided to dry the tea leaves quickly by placing them over pinewood fires.
This unconventional drying method resulted in the tea leaves acquiring a distinct smoky flavour. This new tea discovery was named Lapsang Souchong. Traditional production methods involve withering the leaves over pine fires, imparting the characteristic smokiness that sets it apart from other teas like black, green or white teas.

Characteristics and Flavor Profile

The hallmark of Lapsang Souchong is its bold and robust flavour, coupled with a pronounced smoky aroma. This unique profile is achieved through the smoking process, as we discussed before. The result is a tea with a rich, earthy taste with subtle hints of pine and a lingering smokiness that lingers on the palate. (Try Now!)
Lapsang Souchong's bold and smoky flavour pairs exceptionally well with various foods. You could pair it well with both savoury and sweet dishes. Here are some delicious pairing options:

Savory Pairings:

  • Grilled meats: The smoky notes of Lapsang Souchong complement the charred flavours of grilled meats like steak, chicken, or pork.
  • Smoked fish: Lapsang Souchong's smokiness harmonizes beautifully with the delicate flavours of smoked salmon or trout.
  • Aged cheeses: Pairing Lapsang Souchong with aged cheeses like cheddar, Gouda, or Parmesan creates a delightful contrast of flavours and textures.
  • Spicy dishes: The robust flavour of Lapsang Souchong can cope up with the heat of spicy foods, making it a great accompaniment to dishes like curry or chilli.

Sweet Pairings:

  • Dark chocolate: The earthy undertones of Lapsang Souchong complement the rich and bittersweet flavours of dark chocolate, creating a harmonious pairing.
  • Nutty desserts: Pair Lapsang Souchong with pecan pie, almond cake, or hazelnut chocolate truffles for a delightful combination of flavours.
  • Citrus desserts: The smoky notes of Lapsang Souchong provide a unique contrast to citrusy desserts like lemon bars or orange-infused cakes.

Health Benefits of Lapsang Souchong

Beyond its enticing flavour, Lapsang Souchong offers several health benefits.
  1. The tea is rich in antioxidants; it helps combat free radicals in the body, which could lead to minimising the risk of chronic diseases.
  2. Additionally, it is known that Lapsang Souchong may aid in weight management. The tea could boost metabolism and promote fat oxidation.
  3. Further, the tea can help you with better digestion owing to the tannins that are available in the tea.
  4. Improved immunity is another prominent health benefit, inherited by almost every tea, including Lapsang Souchong.
With the availability of vitamins and minerals, the tea could help you achieve healthy skin while acting as an antiaging brew.

How to Brew Lapsang Souchong?

This is an area where you must take extra care. It is essential to master the perfect balance in brewing, to extract only the delicate essences of the smoky Lapsang Souchong flavour. If you over brew the tea, it will result in an extra Smokey tea, which might not be appealing to sip. On the other hand, if you under brew the tea, it might taste plain, and you might not enjoy the entire flavour spectrum of the tea.
The optimal brewing temperature is around 195°F (90°C), and steeping time should be between 3 to 5 minutes. You can increase the steeping time for a stronger brew, but be mindful not to over-brew, as it may result in a bitter taste.

Lapsang Souchong vs. Other Teas

Compared to other teas, Lapsang Souchong stands out for its bold flavour and distinctive smokiness. Unlike traditional teas like black tea, which undergo oxidation, Lapsang Souchong is dried over open fires, resulting in its characteristic flavour profile. Here's a small comparison,
  1. Being a minimally oxidized tea, Green tea typically has a light, grassy flavour, subtle vegetal notes, and a clean finish. The aromas are either vegetal or grassy, depending on the type of green tea. Teas like organic green teas are even mellow due to their unique growing conditions.
  2. Black tea, on the other hand, is a fully oxidized tea with a range of flavour variations depending on its type. Black tea flavours are identified as full-bodied, lighter-bodied or even floral based on their flavour profile.
  3. In contrast to both these types, Lapsang Souchong tea has a unique smoky intensity both in the brew and the aroma. This is an oxidized tea with a black tea-like appearance, but it deviated due to its unique smoking phase during production.

Conclusion

Lapsang Souchong's rich history, bold flavour, and cultural significance make it a standout choice for tea connoisseurs. The tea appears like black tea, yet when you explore further, it shows major deviations, especially with its Smokey flavour notes. The unique smokiness makes the tea exceptional among the others. However, proper brewing is essential for this tea, as over-brewing or under-brewing could lead to an unappealing cup of tea.
Lapsang Souchong offers a truly unique and unforgettable tea-drinking experience, whether enjoyed alone or used to enhance culinary creations. As tea enthusiasts continue to explore and appreciate the vast array of flavours and traditions in the world of tea, Lapsang Souchong remains a timeless and cherished choice!

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