“Tea Muthaf*cka! Do You Drink It?” will be an ongoing exploration into the world of tea and insulting people by cursing while reviewing them. Largly this was born of interactions on Twitter with other tea-dorks who will remain nameless as to protect their reputations. They know who they are.
Lapsang Souchong (also called Russian Caravan tea) is a black tea from China’s Fujian province. It evidentally has a sublte smoky aroma and flavor (if my subtle you mean being smacked in the face with a burning pine-pitch log). This distinctive flavor is achieved through by having the tea leaves dried in bamboo baskets over pine fires. If you store this stuff in a closed container it will stink up everything else. I left it in my car overnight and in the morning during my commute I pulled over twice to determine what was on fire…evidentally it was my tea.
The name “Russian Caravan Tea” refers to the journey from China to Moscow peasant markets. Russian-bound tea was famous for the smell of the many campfires it would absorb along the way. Thus the smoky tea varieties became associated with Russia.
Another origin story from English Tea Store
Legend claims that the smoking process was discovered by accident. During the Qing dynasty, an army unit passing through Xingcun (Star Village) camped in a tea factory filled with fresh leaves awaiting processing. When the soldiers left and the workers could get back into the premises, they realized that to arrive at market in time, it was too late to dry the leaves in the usual way. So they lit open fires of pine wood to hasten the drying. Not only did the tea reach the market in time, but the smoked pine flavor created a sensation!
Like sucking a campfire through a flaming bamboo straw, but I suppose it is nice. Not something I think that I could drink all the time but it was interesting. Oddly enough it reminded me of some smoky beers that are currently popular with homebrewers. I’ve been fooling around with the recipe for my Pumpkin Chai Ale and I think I may replace the spicy chai tea with the Lapsang to create a smoky variety.
The taste was actually pretty good once you got around the intense smell and the disapproving looks of my wife and my daughter constantly sniffing my cup and grimacing.