Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong
Original and authentic Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong is a lightly smoked tea. It is rarely sold in the US because any tea vendor selling it outside of China needs to have permission from the producer to purchase it from him.
Some classify it as Lapsang Souchong – the smoked tea that European tea drinkers have favored since the 18th century. But Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong is different from Lapsang Souchong in several ways. It is a fine leaf tea that is nothing like the heavily smoked Lapsang Souchong tea that most Westerns are familiar with.
There are important differences…
First…Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong is the original, lightly smoked Chinese black tea. This tea has always been reserved for the Chinese tea market as other types of smoked tea were created for the Western export market.
Second… It is made from fresh spring leaves from tea gardens that are located in the vicinity of smoking sheds. Here the fresh leaf is processed and lightly smoked during the production of this unique black tea. The leaf is essentially given a “cold smoking” during processing, which gives it a lightly smoked character while maintaining flavor and finesse.
Third…It is produced in one protected, natural area deep in a mountain valley of the Wu Yi Shan.
Fourth…It is produced in limited quantity each spring.
Fifth…Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong can usually be re-infused for a second cup, depending on the duration of the first infusion.
Now, Lapsang Souchong…
First…it is heavily smoked (tarry) tea produced for export and is rarely drunk by Chinese tea drinkers.
Second…It is made from already “made” black tea (that is sent to the smoking sheds from other places in China) which is given a hot smoking to impart the thick tarry taste.
Next… Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong in My Cup