A good Lapsang Souchong is a bold, smooth , smoky cup of tea unlike anything you've ever had before. Smoked over fresh pinewood, this black tea produces a dark liquor cup of tea. To create Lapsang Souchong, the tea leaves are first withered over pine root fires, panfried, rolled and oxidized. The leaves are then placed in bamboo baskets and hung on wooden racks over smoking pinewood fires to dry and absorb the smoke.
There are many legends as to how Lapsang Souchong came to be, ranging from villages being set ablaze along with it's tea, to tea factories having to find ways to quickly dry leaves after being taken over by soldiers and using pinewood from nearby forests. However the most likely beginning comes from when teas were first being exported from Asia to Europe. Trips on ships often took months to complete and un-processed teas struggled to make the journey. Tea makers began to roll and oxidize these teas in order to dry the leaves and many times this was done with fires made by pinewood . Many tea factories did and still do have pinewood forests surrounding them to this day.
Some even believe to this day that Lapsang Souchong was the first Black Tea ever created. While not widely consumed inside of China, it is considered an export tea favored by the likes of Winston Churchill among others. Today the smoked tea is considered a specialty premium tea. If you've never tried a cup make sure to see what all the hype is over the dark smoky cup!