Processing of Lapsang Souchong includes drying the harvested leaves over open fires. When brewed, Lapsang is remarkably smooth with delicate hints of sweet smoky flavors.
The legend of the smoking process dates back to the Qing dynasty. While passing through a village, an army unit stymied local growers’ tea production when it camped out in a tea factory full of fresh leaves awaiting processing. The soldiers delayed stay forced the workers to hasten the customary drying stage to ensure the tea would be ready in time for market. Someone came up with the idea to use heat from fire embers beneath the tea racks. The new tea created a sensation.
Today, little differs from the legend. Lapsang Souchong is first withered over smoky pine root fires, then pan fried, rolled and oxidized. Bamboo baskets are then filled and hung on wooden racks over the pine root embers to dry the leaves and ensure absorption of the smoke. The result is a full aroma that disappears into a mild sweet smooth flavor.