Monday, December 12, 2011

2009? Wild Lapsong Souchong

Zhengshan Xiaozhong (aka Lapsong Souchong) is one of only a handful of teas that can improve with age although most outlets that sell this tea don't age it. The lack of aged lapsong in the market likely indicates the use of artificial smoking or poor production techniques. This sample was gifted by Pedro of Dao tea, he aquired it from the owner and highly recommended I try it. It is from an online store called Wild Qi Tea where the site claims that it is 2/3 years aged.

Lapson Souchong has an abundantly warm thermal nature. Although all hong cha has qi that is warming, lapsong's heat is even more warming. This is because it takes on the essence of fire as it is smoked with pine during its production. One of the reasons why this tea is aged is to remove some of the smokiness and bring its energy into a more harmonious state.

Very sweet smooth grape smelling odours emit from these very small tippy mixed black and gold dry leaves- not the typical zhengshan xiaozhong leaves one remembers. Its been a while. A wood pine chalkiness welcomes then slowly transforms into sweet caramel transferring back to subtle smokey wood in the mouth. The transition between these tastes is slow and smooth, the mouthfeel full, wide, and chalky.

The second infusion starts with a sweet, open-watery taste which is filled with caramel then slowly fills the mouth with pine woody notes as the chalky mouthfeel slowly encroaches on the edges of the mouth. The aftertaste has a strong cooling undertone that is noticed with each in-breath. The chest heats up like an oven and the head feels light, the mind and eyes clear, and then focus ensues.

The third infusion starts with a taste that is less sweet and has a longer blank-empty-watery taste with each resulting infusion. The wood pine note is noticed under the whole profile. The aftertaste here is woody and more dry in the mouth. It has subtle hints of soft, smoky currents and is still quite cooling.

The fourth infusion has an even longer empty dry wood pine taste which slowly encroaches upon this emptiness. Sweet woody-gummy-grape aftertaste comes out in the aftertaste which still carries a coolness- the subtle smoky pine base is present throughout. The qi seems to heat the chest, heart, and imparts coolness to the head and limbs. The stomach and digestive organs are energized and softly vibrate. The fifth infusion is much the same but is considerably weaker.

The sixth and following infusions are reduced to dry wood and soft fruit. It is enjoyed like this for a few more pots.



Gabe Fife said...

Hi Matt,

just before reading this post, i too broke open a purchase of a hint of smokey bamboo baked pureh (죽통차 / jooktongcha. I am working on the third infusion and experiencing some interesting difference from when i drank this earlier (2 months ago). i am wondering if the baked taste has decided to depart for i don't get much of that taste at the moment

Gabe Fife said...

ahh! third infusion brought back more of the smokey taste and is a good memory :)

Gabe Fife said...

my photos:

certainly not an expert posting on the sipping process, but i enjoyed it :)

Matt said...

Gabe Fife,

Hahaha... Yesterday, while you were likely enjoying your smoked bamboo puerh tea, one was also enjoying a bamboo shu puerh! It too was a Chinese Export to Korea and was sent as a gift from there!


Richard Zhang said...

Dear Matt:

How are you.

Hi,I am Richard Zhang, Sales Manager of Vicony Teas Company. Vicony Teas is a veteran Chinese tea manufactuer, supplier and wholesaler. I got to know you and your great tea blog when I surf the internet.

Two years ago, we began to provide oversea wholesale service. It is now growing fast, covering more and more kinds of Chinese teas. Our teas are all from the original producing areas and some of them such as Wuyi Zhengyan Yancha and Lapsang Souchong are even the ones from the core producing areas. They are rare even in the market of China. Now, we wish to send some of our teas to the people who not only know tea but also has an insight into it for review. The teas will be totally free(free teas and free shipping). We only wish you would publish your reviews of the teas mentioning our name(ViconyTeas) and giving the links to the product page. Is it OK? Pls kindly let us know. If you are glad to do so, pls let us know your address and phone number to receive them.

For the first time, we will send you three samples(Keemun Sanil Tea DA86, Wuyi Zhengyan Shuixian Yancha WYA21, Wuyi Rou GuiWYB02, each in about 10g). If everything goes smoothly this time, we are glad to send you our other kinds of teas for review on a regular basis in the future.

We are looking forward to your early reply. You can contact us at

Best Regards

Richard Zhang
Sales Executive
Vicony Teas Co.,LTD

Matt said...

Richard Zhang,

Just sent you an email.


Green Stone said...

Oh, I love a good hearty Lapsang! Thanks for writing this one up, I think I'll order some.

On a related note, what is the most smoky commercially available Lapsang Souchong you know of? I have a soft spot for the extreme of "drinking a campfire".


Matt said...


You speak of "Tarry Lapsong".

Don't have any suggestions on where to find the best, worst, Tarry Lapsong. Hahaha

Readers, any suggestions?


JT Hunter said...

Hi Matt and Kate,
I am so happy you liked that Wild Lapsong Souchong. I got it in Wuyishan here in China. I have found real Lapsong Souchong prepared the traditional way very difficult to get now due to the government's new law that the they cannot use Pine trees to smoke it. Therefore you can only get pre-2011 Lapsongs. In addition, there are many fake Lapsong Souchongs even on the Chinese market. This Lapsong is from Tongmuguan where the original Lapsong Souchong trees are. This is from a wild one that my friend harvests himself. He has been working with lapsongs since he was a child. Anyway, you can get the tea from me, but our current website has problems but our new one should be up next week. My email is and if you get some I will send you some free samples of my other related ones such as wild Yin Junmei, and other wild Zheng Shans.

Matt said...

JT Hunter,

Can't use local pine trees to smoke Zhengshan Xiaozhong, that's interesting. Thanks for providing the background on this tea for those who are interested.