Good morning, dear tea friends! As I write this, I’m joyfully listening to James Taylor sing “Here Comes the Sun”. Here in the northern hemisphere, the sun has returned and the days will get longer now with the arrival of the Winter Solstice yesterday. The light of the holiday season is upon us.
On this blustery, early winter morning, I’ve brewed up an unusual cup of tea. Well, unusual for me. A China black tea that has been smoked over pine root fires. Can you guess what it is? If you guessed Lapsang Souchong, you are absolutely correct. To be honest, I’m not partial to the extreme smokiness of this tea, a flavor that tastes of burning pine.
Lapsang Souchong tea, grown in the Wuyi region of the Fujian province of China, is known for its distinctly very smoky aroma and taste. During its processing, the leaves are dried over pinewood/root fires, which impart that smoky quality to the leaf. In essence, the leaves are “smoked’ in their drying. The story goes that many years ago the tea processing had to be sped up as armies marched through that region so the villagers dried the tea leaves over open pinewood fires. A new type of tea was born.
I often thought that Lapsang Souchong leaf was very big but this leaf doesn’t appear so. The leaves used for this tea are found lower down on the tea plant and, since most of the caffeine is concentrated in the new growth, the caffeine content of this tea is found to be lower than usual.
I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. An interesting thing occurred as I poured the water over the leaf in my glass teapot. It started smoking quite a bit. At first I thought it was due to the water being very hot but the tea liquor was smoking like crazy as I pulled out the infuser basket 4 minutes later. Has that happened to anyone else?
The aroma is quite strong – a piney, smoky, campfire smell. The amber-colored tea liquor is quite sweet and smooth with, of course, the predominant smoky flavor. As the tea cooled, the flavor became sweeter and less smoky. That said, the smoky flavor lingered in my mouth for quite a long time and, despite all that smokiness, I found myself beginning to enjoy the tea.
I’m very proud and happy to share that two of my very dear art friends are teaching classes in the new year.
My friend, Amy Crawley, is a polymer clay artist who creates the most wonderful and whimsical sculptures. She’s teaching a class called “Polymer Clay Boot Camp”. If you live in the Concord, MA area and are interested in learning all about polymer clay, you may read all about it here.
My friend, Judy Shea is a mixed media artist extraordinaire, best known for her colorful and innovative canvas pieces, incorporating paint, stencils, stamps, mixed media components and polymer clay. She’s teaching online at Joggles and you may read all about it here.
I’m heading out to visit family in Michigan for the holidays so my tea posts will return in 2 weeks time. I look forward to sharing another cup of tea with you then.
I wish you and yours all the peace and joy of this magical season!