2015 Old-Grove Wild Lapsang Souchong Unsmoked
A rarely available, seven-years aged, unsmoked Lapsang Souchong from a grove of wild 100-years old tea trees in the historic Tongmuguan County of Fujian Province.
Lapsang Souchong is the direct translation of the tea’s Chinese name: 正山小种. The first two characters 正山 translate loosely into “The mountain” or “the correct/right mountain”, and 小种 translate into “small leaf varietal”. Therefore, Lapsang Souchong essentially means “black tea made from the small-leaf varietal tea trees originating from the mountain of Tongmuguan County”. Lapsang Souchong has two variations: smoked or unsmoked. Usually, in the West, only the smoked variation is available. However the unsmoked variation is more popular with Chinese tea connoisseurs.
Lapsang Souchong is a historic tea - as the world’s first black tea, it is the origin of all black teas. Legend has it that a tea farmer in Tongmuguan was in the process of making green tea, but was interrupted suddenly by intruding troops from the neighbouring village. When the tea farmer came back, the green tea had already oxidized into much darker leaves and had developed an unfamiliar smell. The tea farmer attempted to hide the unfamiliar aroma by smoking the tea leaves over pine wood. At the time, there were many English and Dutch traders in Tongmuguan trading tea, and they immediately fell in love with this new type of tea that was full-bodied, sweet and smoky.
The English loved Lapsang Souchong so much so that a Englishman named Robert Fortune stole 20,000 tea plants from Tongmuguan, and planted the tea trees in Darjeeling, India as Darjeeling is at same latitude as Tongmuguan. This is the beginning of Indian black teas.
Tongmuguan is one of the most beautiful, pristine tea origins we have visited. A protected Nature’s Reserve, it is two hours away from Wuyi Mountain in Fujian Province by car. Only local villagers are allowed entry into Tongmuguan County - a checkpoint is in place at the beginning of the winding road leading into Tongmuguan, and no tourists are allowed inside the County.
This Lapsang Souchong originates from Hangdun, the most sought-after village in Tongmuguan County, and one of only 7 villages where the authentic Lapsang Souchong must originate from. Hangdun Village, situated at 4000 ft above sea level, is usually surrounded by cloud and fog. The drive up to Handun is astonishingly scenic - the winding road takes you alongside magnificent cliffs, secluded peaks, crystalline streams and breathtaking waterfalls.
The century-old, wild tea trees, scattered amongst the gigantic bamboo forest, have their branches and trunks covered with moss.
The leaves that were picked for this tea include rustic stems. These stems make this tea suitable for aging - the stems have more nutrients and enzymatic compounds (similar to the stems used in white tea) .
This is a captivating and delicious black tea. Six-years of age has made it a very smooth experience to drink this tea - you can taste the subtleties and nuances, versus a strong direct experience for a new tea. On the palate, it is elegant and refined - milky, floral with beautiful woody undertones. Notes of Chinese jujube dates, sandalwood and orchids.
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The key to brewing this tea is to use boiling water, and fast infusions, starting at 10 seconds.
|Steep time||10 - 60 sec|
|No. of infusions||10+