Metropolitan Tea Company's Lapsang Souchong Butterfly #1 Loose Leaf Tea
Description: A superior leaf Lapsang Souchong offering a crisp character with the remarkable and heady aroma of an oak fire.
Tea Type: Black
Tea Origin: China, Fujian Province, Xingchun Region
Antioxidant Level: Low
Caffeine Content: Medium
Grade: Special Leaf Lapsang Souchong
Shelf Life: 8 years unopened, 2 years after opening
This special smoked tea has a distinctive flavor sometimes referred to as tarry, and is a special tea from Fujian province. The fujianese word 'souchong' means sub variety - meaning a sub variety of other black teas from the Wuyi Mountains of Fujian. When Lapsang Souchong was first exported to Western European countries and became famous on the international markets, it was no doubt due to its distinct aroma and flavor. Interestingly, the best Lapsang is produced in the local nature preserve in the Wuyi Mountains, where the high mountains with thick pine forests and heavy mist provide the ideal environment for growing top quality tea.
Legend claims that the smoking process was discovered by accident. During the Qing Dynasty, an army unit passing through Xingcun (Star Village) camped in a tea factory that was filled with fresh leaves. When the soldiers left and the workers returned to the premises, they realized they had limited time to dry the leaves for market. So, they lit open fires on fresh pinewood in an effort to speed up drying time. Not only did the tea reach the market in time, but also the smoked pine flavor created a timeless favorite.
The method of production is as follows: The leaves are first withered over fires of pine or cypress wood. After pan-frying and rolling, the leaves are pressed into wooden barrels, then covered with cloth to ferment. The leaves are then 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. When finished, they are thick, glossy black strips, and produce a dark red beverage with a unique aroma and taste. It is generally consumed with sugar or milk. Depending upon one's palate the taste can be light and intriguing or heavy and overpowering. Lapsang Souchong is best described as an acquired taste.