95% of people hate Lapsang.
I maintain that those people are missing one of the great pleasures of the tea world. It's not even an acquired taste - it's simply delicious, if you can bring yourself to try it even after deciding you don't like the tarry aroma (which I love).
Lapsang Souchong is a black, smoked China tea with a tarry, smoky flavour. Originally, the teas grew in bitumastic soils - soils with natural tars. The flavour proved popular in the UK, so the Chinese increased production and started smoking it deliberately.
As with anything Chinese, we have a romantic story about its invention. Armies passing through the tea regions caused delays in tea production. To catch up, the farmers dried their leaves over fires. The happy result: Lapsang Souchong.
Today, the tea - grown originally only in Fujian province, but now elsewhere too - is usually smoked over pine. The aroma is strongly smoky. Do you remember the tarred string that you used to find in every garden shed? That's the smell. I personally love it, but I understand why some people have a hard time associating it with tea.
The flavour is surprisingly subtle. It's a tea that's much better without milk, though that's not an absolute rule. In fact, the guide with Lapsang is - the better the tea, the more subtle the smokiness.
The smoke imparts a kind of sweetness, and a complexity that enhances rather than masks the flavour of the tea itself. In fact, Lapsang will hardly ever go bitter, no matter how long you brew it.
It's become a lot harder in recent years to buy Lapsang of good quality. The Chinese - currently embracing anything remotely Western - are rather unsportingly keeping the good stuff for themselves.
There is no better tea for Summer. On a hot day, nothing will refresh you quite as quick as a cup of crystal-clear, tantalisingly smoky Lapsang Souchong.
It's the epitome of an English summer afternoon, as English as cucumber sandwiches and cricket.
So, to the 5% who are still reading, I say: give it a try if you've not already done so. And if you've only tried supermarket Lapsang, please try mine.
As usual, you are protected by my usual GUARANTEE. If you don't like it, tell me. I will give you your money back, no quibbles.
Andrew's Video Notebook
|Milk||Good without milk|
|When to Drink||Afternoon|
I guarantee you will love this product.
If not, let me know by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling me on 023 9275 0122.
I will give you a full and immediate refund - no questions asked.
Andrew Gadsden (Saviour of Tea)
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