Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Birth of Lapsang Souchong - Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong

Myth of Lapsang Souchong 正 山 小 種 (Main mountain small bush)

Wu Yi Shan has long been the major tea producing region through out China history and today. Gong Bing - Tea cakes were produced before the Ming dynasty, loose leaves thereafter. Before tea became a fashion in European, black tea was no where to be found. It was born due to an accident. A military troop past by a village, made themselves comfortable by sleeping on top of a layer of tea leaves which were being sun dried during the day. The village people couldn't collect the leaves over night, then found the fresh leaves completely fermented the next morning. These leaves were to shipped to Europe originally as Wu Yi Yen Cha. But as a result, the village people smoked these over fermented leaves to mask the flavor using fire wood. The name Lapsang Souchong was given to this new product. Interestingly enough, the Dutch loved the smoky flavor and ordered more, hence the spread of Lapsang Souchong in Europe.

Lapsang Souchong is Fukkienese, Fu Jian in modern day. Tea is also Fukkienese, De' is how it's pronounced. It became Tee in Dutch, then Tea in English. Cha is the official name in China, also used in India and the rest of Asian countries. Geographically, Fu Jian port was the first landing of the Dutch to load up ship loads of tea. De' was therefore adopted by the Dutch and carried back to Europe. In fact, most imported tea from China to Europe are of Fukkienese names. I couldn't make sense of Lapsang Souchong before I found it on an English/Chinese tag at WHF years ago.

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