From the Heart

heart_shaped_puerh_1

You know the saying…. “My cup runneth over”…

Well, my tea cupboard runneth over!  Now, we won’t get into just HOW many teas there are in that cupboard, but needless to say there are more than a just a few. As we all know, organization is the key to anything, or at least that’s what our mothers always told us. So, not for the first time, nor surely the last, I decided to reorganize my teas. I emptied them all on the kitchen counter and began the task of arranging and classifying.

The proper storage of tea…

Is imperative to its shelf life, quality and flavor. Heat, temperature, moisture, odor and light are any teas enemy. The need to keep our precious leaves at their peak of freshness, is paramount. I admit I do have a vast assortment of tea canisters, but no matter what the size, color, shape – they are all air tight and opaque. So, I began grouping my tins in rows on the counter initially by color (further division would follow) – green, white, yellow, oolong, black and dark. They looked like six, neat, straight rows of imposing tin soldiers and then it happened.  I had in my hand a tin, that if you loved the taste of smoke, be it just a hint of smokiness or an intense blast of soot and ash, there it was Lapsang Souchong. Now to my way of thinking, this tea seems to collect either dedicated fans or bitter enemies, due mostly in part to its heavy smoke flavor and the total oddity of smoke flavor in a beverage. And I must admit, I am in the bitter enemy category.

I realize and do appreciate that the tea we choose to drink is as unique as each individual, but I am always baffled when I meet people who love this tea! In my mind (and I know I am being perhaps a bit harsh) Lapsang Souchong is one of the strongest, most complex and frankly the strangest of teas – its aroma is anything but delicate and floral in character and the taste…

As to its origin…

There is a legend – now whether it’s true or not who knows – but it is interesting. According to this legend, Lapsang Souchong was discovered by accident one night during the Taipei Rebellion (a massive rebellion in China that was waged from 1850 to 1864). Workers at a tea processing station in the Fujian province used fresh tea leaves as bedding. During the attack on the station by rebel troops, the troops set the tea bedding on fire. Afterward, the leaves were discovered charred and with a unique aroma, enticed, the tea-processing station proprietor turned to drying tea leaves more quickly than usual using open pinewood fires. Again, true or not, it is an interesting tea fun tidbit that you can share at your next tea get-together.

For me, Lapsang Souchong in my cup, is like drinking a campfire or a heavy cigar, but who am I to say. Lovers of Lapsang Souchong often describe it as “a strong black tea with an assertive smoky flavor that is likened to the taste of single- malt Scotch and cigar.” Sounds nice, but…liquid campfire, yum! But there was a dedicated fan of this tea – Winston Churchill! It was his favorite – maybe because he compared the character of the tea to his preferred Cuban cigars, which is said he smoked up to ten a day.

winston-churchill-cigar_medium

So where did I end up putting my tin of Lapsang Souchong? Way, way, way back in the cupboard along with my tin of matcha…but that’s a story for another day.  Do you enjoy of cup of Lapsang Souchang?

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