Lapsang souchong

Lapsang souchong (/ˌlæpsæŋ ˈsɒŋ/; Chinese: 正山小種; pinyin: zhèngshān xiǎozhǒng), sometimes referred to as smoked tea (熏茶),[1] is a black tea (Camellia sinensis) that is originally from the mountainous Wuyi region in the province of Fujian in China. It is distinct from other types of tea, as the leaves are traditionally smoke-dried over pinewood fires, imparting a distinctive flavor of smoky pine.

Lapsang souchong
Lapsang Souchong.jpg

OriginMount Wuyi, Fujian Province, China

Quick descriptionSouchong smoked over pine fire, smoky taste.

Temperatureboiling water (100°C or 212° F)
Time2–3 minutes
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese正山小種
Simplified Chinese正山小种
Literal meaningCoarse tea leaves from the Upright Mountains”
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese立山小種
Simplified Chinese立山小种
Literal meaningCoarse tea leaves from Li Mountain

Xiǎozhǒng or Siu2 zung2 (小種) refers to the larger, coarser tea leaves that are found lower on the branch.[citation needed] Lapsang souchong is a member of the Bohea family of teas, but is not an Oolong tea, as most Bohea teas are. ("Bohea" is the pronunciation in the Minnan dialect for the Wuyi Mountains, the mountainous area that produces a large family of teas in South-East China).[citation needed]

Lapsang souchong from the original source is increasingly expensive because of increasing demand for this variety of tea, as Wuyi is a small area.[citation needed]


The story goes that the tea was created during the Qing era when the passage of armies delayed the annual drying of the tea leaves in the Wuyi Mountain. Eager to satisfy demand, the tea producers sped up the process by drying the leaves over fires made from local pines.[citation needed]

According to some sources, Lapsang souchong is the first black tea in history, even earlier than Keemun tea. After the lapsang souchong tea was used for producing black tea called Min Hong (meaning "Black tea produced in Fujian"), people started to move the tea bush to different places, such as Keemun, India and Ceylon.[citation needed]


“Souchong” (小种) refers to the fourth and fifth leaves of the tea plant, further away from the more highly prized bud (pekoe) of the tea plant. These leaves are coarser than the leaves closer to the bud and have fewer aromatic compounds. Smoking provides a way to create a marketable product from these less desirable leaves.[2]

The leaves are roasted in a bamboo basket called a hōnglóng (), which is heated over burning firewood, which contributes to the dried longan aroma and smoky flavour.[3] Pinewood is used as the firewood for lapsang souchong and imparts the characteristic resiny aroma and taste.


The aroma of lapsang souchong is derived from a variety of chemical compounds. The two most abundant constituents of the aroma are longifolene and α-terpineol. Many of the compounds making up the aroma of lapsang souchong, including longifolene, originate only in the pine smoke and are not found in other kinds of tea.[4]

Flavour and aromaEdit

A black tea, lapsang souchong has a rich colour.

Lapsang souchong is noted for its rich aromas and flavours which include pine resin, woodsmoke, smoked paprika, hints of dried longan,[5][6] the evocation of peated whisky[7] and fine cigars [8].

It is common for even rather strongly brewed lapsang souchong tea to lack the bitterness common with other tea varieties.


Lapsang souchong has a high reputation outside China; it is viewed as an export tea inside China.[9] It was drunk by Winston Churchill[10] and Gary Snyder,[11] who referred to it in Mountains and Rivers Without End.

In popular cultureEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Smoked Tea". Archived from the original on 2012-08-03. Retrieved 2012-07-09.
  2. ^ Delmas, F. X.; Minet, M.; Barbaste, C. (2008). The Tea Drinkers Handbook. Abbeville Press. pp. 49, 159. ISBN 978-0-7892-0988-7.
  3. ^ "Lapsang Souchong Tea". Tea and Coffee. The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company. 21 September 2016. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  4. ^ Yao, S. S.; Guo, W. F.; Lu, Y.; Jiang, Y. X. (2005). "Flavor Characteristics of Lapsang Souchong and Smoked Lapsang Souchong, a Special Chinese Black Tea with Pine Smoking Process". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 53 (22): 8688–93. doi:10.1021/jf058059i. PMID 16248572.
  5. ^ "Lapsang Souchong Tea". Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  6. ^ "Lapsang Souchong Tea - Smoked Chinese Black Tea". Retrieved 2018-05-31.
  7. ^ Perry, S. (2010). Tea Deck: 50 Ways to Prepare, Serve, and Enjoy. Chronicle Books. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-8118-7288-1.
  8. ^ "Tarry Lapsang Souchong - No.24". The Tea Makers of London.
  9. ^ "Lapsang Souchong, The Original Version". January 24, 2018. Retrieved March 24, 2019.
  10. ^ Heiss, M. L.; Heiss, R. J. (2011). The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide. Ten Speed. p. 133. ISBN 978-1-6077-4172-5.
  11. ^ "Mill Valley Literary Review magazine for writers readers".
  12. ^ Mitchell, Ben (September 1998). "Patrick Stewart - Beavis and Butt-head's biggest fan on theft, tea and Tetris". Neon (UK Film Magazine). UK: EMAP. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  13. ^ Beggs, Alex. "If There Was an Oscar for Best Food Scene, 'Phantom Thread' Would Win". Bon Appétit. Retrieved 9 January 2020.

External linksEdit