Lapsang Souchong Tea

by jptanabe

What is Lapsang Souchong Tea? It is that famous smoky tasting tea that can be drunk with or without milk.

Lapsang souchong tea is "smoky tea" which means it is a tea that tastes strongly of smoke! It was actually created by accident, an accident that turned out to be very fortuitous.

It's actually quite delicious, and very unique. Can be drunk with or without milk. As a Brit, I like it with milk of course!

Image of Lapsang Souchong Tea Leaves from Wikimedia Commons.

History of Lapsang Souchong Tea

The story goes that tea growers in Tong Mu, a small village in the Wuyi Mountains of Fujian in China, saw soldiers coming. To save their tea crop, which was large leaf tea normally made into oolong tea, they hid the tea and also hid themselves in the mountains. To prevent their tea from rotting while they were gone, the villagers quickly dried the harvest using freshly cut pinewood. After the soldiers were gone, the villagers returned to find that their tea was a dark color and tasted strongly of smoke, quite unlike the delicate oolong they usually prepared.

Wuyi Mountains, Fujian, China
Wuyi Mountains, Fujian, China

An enterprising lot though, when the traders from the Netherlands came through to buy tea, these villagers offered them their special smoky tea. Amazingly, the Europeans loved it and came back for more, paying a higher price than for the regular tea!

Enjoying Lapsang Souchong Tea

Lapsang souchong tea is made like any other tea, and it can be drunk with or without milk. For us Brits, with milk is delicious! I have fond memories of my college years drinking Lapsang souchong with my friends.

For those who prefer their tea "black" Lapsang souching tastes fine, very smoky of course, with nothing added, but is also delicious with a touch of lemon.

A cup of Lapsang Souchong tea showing its rich color
A cup of Lapsang Souchong tea showing...

Lapsang souchong tea is so distinctive in flavor, it's like being at a campfire. You can imagine then, that it goes well with savory or salty foods. It's particularly good with cheese as well as spicy dishes. It's good with apples too, for some reason.

Since Lapsang souchong tea is so smoke flavored, using it for cooking is a great way to add that smoked taste. You can use it as a marinade for meat roasted in the oven. I even found a recipe for Lapsang souchong flavored ice cream!

It's also possible to mix Lapsang Souchong with other teas, especially if you find the smokiness a bit too strong.

What do you think of Lapsang Souchong Tea?

Loose Leaf Lapsang Souchong Tea

The authentic Lapsang souchong comes from the Wuyi mountains of Fujian where the pine forests and heavy mist provide a perfect environment for growing the best tea. Of course, the real thing is very expensive, and hard to come by. So some varieties are of much lower quality and naturally much inferior taste. Some brands add smoky flavor artificially. But still, it's very possible to get a nice cup that's really enjoyable!

There are some great loose leaf Lapsang souchong teas. Personally, I like loose tea, but I'm often too lazy to bother so I buy tea bags - see the next section for Lapsang souchong tea bags. But with Lapsang souchong there really is an advantage in buying loose tea. Sometimes the tea is just too strongly flavored, too smoky, for some people's taste. Then, if you have the loose stuff you can mix it with a good black tea and get just a hint of the smokiness without it being overpowering. At least that's something we used to do as college students, could be it's cheaper that way too!

Harney & Sons Lapsang Souchong loose tea.

Harney & Sons was founded by John Harney in 1983 in Connecticut. Today, Harney & Sons Tea is made in Millerton, New York - close to where I live! The company remains family owned and managed, with three generations of Harney's preserving the tradition of highest quality hand-picked, full-leaf teas from the finest tea gardens and estates.

This Lapsang souchong tea is smoky and delicious.

Tea Infusers

If you're going to make Lapsang souchong with loose leaf tea you'll need some equipment. If you don't want the cup or ball infuser, try this special pot - not too expensive!

Glass Teapot With Infuser and Cozy


This contemporary glass and stainless steel globe teapot with mesh tea infuser is made not only looks good but is fully functional. 

The teapot brews 4-5 cups of tea and the washable, custom-fit cozy keeps it warm.

The tea infuster is removable, allowing you to steep any type of loose tea leaves or tea bags.

Lapsang souchong tea bags

For convenience, and really some of these have great taste, try Lapsang souchong in tea bags. Lots to enjoy without the hassle and mess of loose tea!

Taylors of Harrogate Lapsang Souchong

Taylors of Harrogate are a UK independent family tea company, founded in 1886. Their Lapsang Souching is the classic style from northern Formosa. Its unique smoky taste can be enjoyed at any time of the day. 

Contains 50 tea bags.

Health Benefits of Lapsang Souchong Tea

Well, Lapsang souchong is a black tea and not usually drunk for health reasons. Still, black teas in general are relatively healthy beverages when compared to the alternatives, which include coffee (too much caffeine), soft drinks (too sweet), and alcoholic drinks (too much alcohol!).

Tea is always touted as having antioxidants which are good for you. And black teas like Lapsang souchong have those.

In any case, enjoying a lovely cup of tea, and a good Lapsang souchong is definitely a pleasure, is a good thing. So even if it's not up the top on the list of healthy things to drink, I say go for a cup of Lapsang souchong and believe it's good for you - and it will be.

Updated: 01/23/2024, jptanabe
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Do you Drink Lapsang Souchong Tea?

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jptanabe on 09/11/2015

It is an interesting story!

Mira on 09/11/2015

I didn't know the story of this tea. Am happy to have learned something new from the world of tea. Thanks for the article :)

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