Lapsang Souchong (China)
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The lower leaves of the tea plant are tougher and have less complexity in their taste, so the Fuji province in China sets these leaves aside and smokes them over a fire made from pine wood. The leaves are set on a screen and the smoke passes through the leaves.
Lapsang Souchong (Lap-Sang Soo-Shong) has a high reputation outside of China, and high demand makes it increasingly expensive. However, within China, it is rarely drank and is viewed as a "Westerner's Tea" This is a tea that people either have no interest in drinking, or exceedingly enjoy. American author James Michener summed it up by saying, "it is a man's tea, deep and subtle...rugged...better even than whiskey."
This tea blew me away the first time I drank it straight, and I couldn't stop thinking about it. I still enjoy a mug of this straight up, but one of my favorite ways to serve it now is as a tea latte. Brew it double strength and add an equal amount of sugar as tea. Mix the brew 50/50 with warm milk (170 degrees). Add a drop of vanilla extract. This is also a great tea to use in cooking...use it as a meat rub or incorporate it into a sauce. Its flavors are unlike anything else on your spice rack.
Tasting Notes: Smoke, Clove, Pine, Medium Body
Steep: 1 tsp of tea for 8oz water. Water temperature: 205. Steep time 3 minutes. Sweetener: Optional
Approximately 18 tsp in a 1 ounce package.