Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Enjoying Tea
Lapsang souchong is a special Chinese black tea. This tea produces a reddish hue liquor with a smooth crisp taste and a smoky aroma of pine wood fire. The lapsang souchong is considered to be heavy and overpowering by many.
The method of production for this tea is the following: The leaves are first withered over fires of pine wood. After pan-frying and rolling, they are presses into wooden barrels and covered with cloth to ferment until they give off a pleasant fragrance. The leaves are fired again and rolled into taut strips. Then they are placed in bamboo baskets and hung on wooden racks over smoking pine fires to dry and absorb the smoke flavor.
I feel that I need to preface this review with this: I am not a fan of Lapsang Souchong teas. I am one of the “many” as depicted in the above review that find Lapsang Souchong tea to be “heavy and overpowering.” The pine smoke aroma and taste is a bit overwhelming for my personal taste. And because my first experience with a Lapsang Souchong was not a positive one, and since that time, I’ve steered myself clear of Lapsang Souchong teas.
That being said, I have learned since that first experience that not all teas are the same – including Lapsang Souchong teas! – and it’s not fair for me to now judge all Lapsang Souchong teas based on one bad experience years ago… I mean, who knows? Perhaps my tastes have changed. Perhaps that one Lapsang Souchong was not a good representation of all Lapsang Souchong teas. I need to not allow myself to become confined based upon my opinions. I need to experience things to make sure I truly dislike them… only then can I be sure.
So, summoning up all the courage I can muster, I brew myself a cup of this Lapsang Souchong from Enjoying Tea. I awaken the tea leaves first, giving them a quick “rinse” (or pre-infusion) with boiling water for about 10 seconds before I steep the tea.
The flavor and aroma is quite smoky (no surprise there, this IS a Lapsang Souchong tea). But I do think that the pre-rinse did help, because it’s not as smoky as I seem to remember Lapsang Souchong being. I can smell the pine scent, it reminds me of the scent of the smoke when one burns pine needles. It isn’t my favorite scent, but it isn’t unpleasant, either.
This is a very complex tea. I can taste the smoky essence and the presence of the pine. But beneath those rather heavy layers there is a nice (yes, I said NICE) and delicious (yes, delicious) caramel-y sweetness that complements the smoky and pine flavors well, and while it is still not my favorite tea, I can see what others love in this tea. It is not as terrible as I once made it out to be.
So, I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t let your opinions you’ve formed years ago shape who you are now. Be willing to try something new and out of your comfort zone, and you might find something rewarding when you do. Trying this tea was way out of my own comfort zone but I am really very glad that I tried it because I got to taste that delicious caramel flavor to this tea and I now understand this tea just a little better.