Tea: Old Bush Smoked Lapsang Souchong (Zhongshan Xiaozhong)
Type: Tongmuguan Black Tea (hongcha)
Harvest: May, 2021
Region: Masu Village, Tongmuguan, Fujian
Producer: Zhang Family
There is something distinct about the natural pine smoke aroma that has been traditionally imbued into the dry leaves of the Masu smoked Lapsang Souchong. This key feature is the house of a specific pine tree varietal (horsetail pine) that is heavily regulated and utterly unavailable outside the Tongmuguan Nature Reserve. Since the Zhang family have been living in these mountains and making tea for generations, they know where these trees grow in number and respectfully harvest only what they need for production season. That said, when compared to other smoked teas, this Masu Tongmuguan Smoked Lapsang is in its own world.
Cutting through the very savory pine smoke aroma of the leaves there is a carmelized sweetness that thickens the aroma and binds the many layers together. The brew is surprisingly light, a clear gold, and while the aroma is similar to that commming off the leaves, the brew itself is incredibly soft and sweet. This is another sign of the properly made Smoked Lapsang Souchong teas, the smoke should be all in the nose, while there should be sweetness on the tongue. Throughout the experence, complex spice and sweetness opens up similar to that of the Unsmoked tea, yet the smoke aroma never dissipates or lessons from he leaves or the brew. This tea is incredibly easy to drink and reminds us that the smoked process, when done properly, can enhance and blend with the flavors already present in the leaves.
As is characteristic of the Masu Village black teas, the leaves are large and rough. This is a point of pride in the hundred year plus history of tea production in this village, their teas are identifiable at a glance. The Masu village is located 1250 meters above the main Tongmuguan, and is a very small and isolated village. The Zhang family has been producing Zhongshan Xiaozhong (Lapsang Souchong) for more than 5 generations, and every member of the family is trained in the processing (sons and daughters both). This region, the village, the farmers, producers, and makers check every one of our sourcing tea boxes.