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Notes from China - discovering Lapsang Souchong in the Wuyishan Mountains

July 23 2014
 
Wuyishan Mountains

"On the next leg of our explorations, we headed to the Wuyishan mountain range, the home of Lapsang Souchong. Famous for its distinctive smokiness and depth, I was looking forward to discovering exactly how this tea is created. After a steep winding ascent, passing only a few farm vehicles and people carrying large baskets of fresh tea leaves, we arrived at the home of our hosts, a local farmer and his family, who were going to show us how this tea has traditionally been made.

Lapsang Souchong tea harvestingWe were ushered into one of the small farm buildings for a tasting. Sitting on low stools, tiny cups in hand as we waited for the tea to infuse, we looked out onto a magnificent view of mountains, misty forests and the lush tea garden below. Clearly these were very happy tea bushes. The tea was just delicious - golden and sweetly fragrant with a subtle smokiness that tasted like the pine trees outside. The farmer performed the complicated ritual of infusing and re-infusing the leaves, allowing us to taste the first, second and third cup, as the tea mellowed and gained in depth. It was one of those special tea-tasting experiences - Lapsang will never be the same for me!

Georgia reports back on the
Dragonfly team’s tea adventures
in China last month …

 

Lapsang Souchong tea traditions

Afterwards the farmer and his family showed us the smokery – a tiny room with a charred stone floor and a sunken area for the log fire. The smoke would rise up through the low rafters into the room above, where the already slightly wilted tea leaves had been laid out on rush mats, infusing them with the distinctive scent of pine wood. 

Our host explained that this traditional Lapsang Souchong is made from an Oolong tea and so, being only semi-fermented, it is much lighter and sweeter than other Lapsangs made from black tea (find out more about Oolong tea). I only wish I had got my hands on some to drink back at home."