For the longest time I’ve avoided writing about Lapsang Souchong. Although very popular in some places, Lapsang Souchong isn’t really my cup of tea. I do enjoy the smokiness and the subtleties, but in reality I have the same problem with Lapsang Souchong as I do with Oolong: i can’t drink it without aggravating my IBS and putting my digestive system out of commission for a few days.
However, it turns out that Eli has a Lapsang Souchong, and naturally it’s kind of incredible. Like, one whiff and your eyes roll back in your skull and you’re ready to swoon kind of good. So hey, time to make sacrifices for my art. xD
Lapsang Souchong is not actually the real name for this style of tea, just the common name. The original name is Zhen Shan Xiao Zhong. Even i can’t say that five times fast. Zhen Shan is the region in Fujian (in the Wuyi Mountains) where unique smoking sheds are used with a unique manufacturing process. Plucked leaves are withered over pine or cypress wood fires. The leaves are then pan-fried, rolled and pressed into wooden barrels, covered with a cloth and left to oxidize. Finally, the leaves are fried again and rolled again into tight strips, then hung in baskets over smoking pine wood fires to dry. The process is arduous and labor intensive to say the least. Lapsang Souchong are quite often used in tea blends (Russian Caravan, English Breakfast, etc.) to add a bit of smokiness
Eli’s Lapsang Souchong is so intense that it doesn’t actually smell anything like tea. It smells like pine forest lumber mill that’s caught fire and just been doused by a firehose. “Smoked” just doesn’t do Lapsang Souchong’s aroma justice at all. It’s quite possibly the strongest tea I’ve ever smelled. I have to just sit here for a few minutes and recover from experiencing it, or i might give myself a concussion.
At the first sip, the flavor doesn’t actually feel that overpowering… But after a few seconds, my sinuses blow a fog horn and my eyes go round. The flavor of a rich malt and a harsh crisp CTC Assam-like Black actually taste a great deal smoother and more restrained than Lapsang Souchong’s aroma would lead you to believe. Tea grit is definitely present in every sip, but the subtleties of how it interacts with one’s taste buds are blown out by Lapsang Souchong’s scent. The liquor brews to a gorgeous sunset auburn.
- Aroma – 100
- Taste – 94
- Texture – 90
- Spunk – 95
- Price – 92
- Availability – 99
- Appearance – 94
Mean score – 95%
I’m not sure anyone does this anymore, but if you smoke a pipe, you will absolutely love Eli’s Lapsang Souchong. No other lapsang I’ve ever tried can legitimately hold a candle to this. In terms of scoring, Lapsang Souchong is actually tied with Bourbon Black Blend, but that tea’s whiskey flavor is really nothing like a traditional Lapsang. Thus, I feel justified in awarding Eli’s Lapsang Souchong Best in its Class. Eli, you are a tea god.