Celebrate Organic Month: The Process of Making Organic Lapsang Souchong (smoked black tea)
We’re featuring our unique organic tea varieties and the processes that craft the perfect cup for our Organic Month celebration. This week we move on from White Tea, the least processed tea of all, to take a closer look at smoked black tea, Lapsang Souchong.
Lapsang Souchong is a distinctive Chinese black tea known for its smoky and assertive character, reminiscent of a campfire on a brisk evening. It is said that the discovery of smoked black tea, nicknamed Russian Caravan, comes from the caravans carrying black tea on trade routes from China to Russia in the 1600s. During the journey through cold Siberia, campfires were used to keep warm. And over the many nights, campfire smoke permeated into the tea containers, resulting in a taste unlike any other tea. Luckily, the Russian traders loved this new flavor profile and Russian Caravan tea was born. Later, Chinese tea producers began creation of their own pine smoked black tea known as Lapsang Souchong.
Like all of our teas, Lapsang Souchong starts with high quality organic farming.
Once mature, the leaves are hand plucked to preserve the whole leaf and brought to the factory for processing.
Once at the factory, the tea is withered for 12-15 hours by a steady stream of dry air to remove moisture. While the tea leaves wither, a natural chemical change is happening within the leaf, enhancing flavor. When withering is complete, machines are used to roll, twist, and press the leaves, releasing the enzymes and juices, bringing out the leaves distinguishing character.
The next step is unique from all other tea types: Smoking. The tea leaves are exposed to smoke from pine fires before oxidation, infusing the leaves with its hearty, bold, and smoky character.
After the tea is smoked, the tea leaves then begin to oxidize. Black teas are oxidized fully to create black tea leaves.
As soon as desired oxidation is reached, the tea is dried by firing at high heat to quickly eliminate any remaining moisture and to ensure longevity and freshness of the tea.
Visit How It’s Made on our website to click through other tea types and explore the steps in processing.
We’ll continue de-mystifying tea processing next week as our Organic Month celebration continues, stay tuned!