Though more familiar in the West as its smoked variant, its usual treatment over pinewood here steps aside to let the gentler flavours of the Laocong leaves through: warm, milky caramel, like nothing so much as the crust of a cannelé, garnished by red fruits and undergirded by a sweet-saltiness typical of Fujian black teas. Its understated character and beautiful softness is an open invitation to take one’s time as the infusions mellow slowly out to a faint cocoa bitterness, buoyed by a silky mouthfeel that could continue on long into the night.
The true Lapsang Souchong
Nestled deep in the Wuyi mountains, the minuscule village of Tongmuguan has been an innovator of black teas in a region itself marked by tea discoveries, responsible for originating the Jin Jun Mei style, as well as perhaps black tea itself. For reasons which are now legendary, some oolong leaves were quickly dried over pinewood fires, and the favourable reception this tea received cemented this new style, becoming known in the West as Lapsang Souchong. Given its remedial origin, it is perhaps unsurprising that much Lapsang Souchong production today is made with inferior leaves heavily smoked to add value for export markets. In contrast, our tea is produced primarily for inland consumption, where it is known as Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong, and its smoking is optional and used to enhance the flavour of the already quality leaves.