Tea, muthaf*cka! Do you drink it? ~ Lapsang Souchong

“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.





10 thoughts on “Tea, muthaf*cka! Do you drink it? ~ Lapsang Souchong

  1. I would be careful if substituting this tea to do so in very small amounts. Might lead to astringency or harsh unwanted biterness (not like hop bitterness) in your ale. I still need your recipes so I can update my recipe page.

    • I worry about that too. But in my Tea ale recipes I only use aromatic hops and avoid the finishing hops for that reason. In my Chai version I used very little hops and it wasn’t bitter at all. I was very surprised.

      When I steep the tea for flavor in beer, I steep it just like in the actual infusion of my normal tea ~ for only a certain amount of time to ensure no bitterness. If steeped for too long you will get that bitterness. I lessened the hops so that I would actually pick up on the Chai (which I did but I think I could use a tad more next time).

      I came across some Taoist elixer recipes that I plan on fusing with a brown ale too.

      Will send you recipes as soon as I find where I wrote them down *damn*.



      • Oh, i would use just a touch of bittering hops, and leave out the aromatic ones, if you really want the chai-spice to come through. Though, i’ve only used spices once before, and have yet to try my hands at a chai beer. If only I had some sort of recipe to look at….

        My next is a Dunkleweisen, and then I decided on Barley Wine. Just seemed like a good time. It won’t be ready till about Yule time though. Stupid home brew taking forever teaching me patience…. blah!

        Taoist elixer recipe eh? Try out the brown ale recipe I posted on my page. Very tasty stuff.

        And I find that Qbrew is a great program to use for formulating and storing recipes. It’s free to download, and super easy to use. And you can just save whatever you create there. I can’t read my own handwriting, so that helps me. http://www.usermode.org/code.html

        • Oh man! I go spice crazy in my beers. The best beer bases are browns and reds. very simple to brew and *bland* so you can really go crazy on it.

          I’ll get the recipe up tonight. I should be able to pull it from memory. It was a simple recipe.



  2. Yowza — jumping into lapsang souchong early in your tea forays!

    I drink it once every 6-12 months, max. Not a favorite, but sometimes, the smokiness of it’s kind of nice. I liken it to licking the inside of a chimney.

  3. “I view tea drinking as a destroyer of health, an enfeebler of the frame, an en-genderer of effeminancy and laziness, a debaucher of youth and maker of misery for old age. Thus he makes that miserable progress towards that death which he finds ten or fifteen years sooner than he would have found it if he had made his wife brew beer instead of making tea.”
    ~William Cobbett, ‘Cottage Economy’ (1821)

  4. I’m a barista at Peets coffee and decided to double steep lapshong and marinate it with steak. And OMGULLAYGEEWILLAKERS! the best steak ever! It was very juicy and smokey with hints of fresh cloves. A MUST TRY!

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