Today's tea is Teavivre's Lapsang Souchong Smoky Black Tea or Yan Xun Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong, from the Wuyi Mountains in Fujian, China. This tea is smoked over pine wood (or pine wood charcoal) from Tongmu Kuan in the Wuyi Mountains. Lapsang Souchong has a long and interesting history, in theory Laspang Souchong was created when the passage of an army delayed the annual drying, so in order to meet the demand the tea producers spread up the processing by drying the leaves over pine fires. Turns out it was a tasty idea. The aroma is very much so a pine smoke heavy black tea, lots of pine smoke goodness and a rich malt. There are also notes of molasses and roasted peanuts which blends really well with the pine resin and smoke.
After tossing the pile of leaves into my gaiwan...ok, not tossing, that would be rude to the leaves, and giving the tea its initial steeping, the wet leaves have a very rich aroma with notes of molasses, loam, malt, pine sap, and loads of pine smoke. It smells like a rich black tea steeping over a fire. The liquid once it has been freed from the gaiwan (It is what I am calling pouring now) has a slightly sweet aroma that reminds me of freshly baked molasses cookies. There is, of course, an overarching aroma of pine smoke and resin.
The first steep is quite smooth and very light. The taste is subtly sweet with notes of pine sap and sweet potatoes. This fades to a rich smokiness that lingers into the aftertaste. This steep promises that future steeps are going to have a wonderful richness and smokiness, it is a good prelude to what is to come.
On the second steep there is a strong molasses and pine smoke aroma. The taste is very strong pine resin taste with strong notes of roasted peanuts and molasses. The tea is not very sweet and has a slight astringent finish. It is smoky and brisk and quite strong.
On a whim I decided to give this tea a visit using Western techniques. The aroma is malty, rich, and quite smoky. The taste is very smoky with heavy notes of pine, molasses, and sweetness. The aftertaste is malty and smoky. Both the Western and the Gongfu styles of brewing made a deliciously smoky and rich tea.