aka lapsang souchang
like so many people, my introduction to black tea was Lipton. it was good enough to build a youthful tea habit (with evaporated milk, west indian-style,) but it was lapsang that ushered me into adulthood of tea life. the very first known black tea’s real name is zheng shan xiao zhong dates back to the Ming dynasty and gets its smoky flavor from being smoked over pinewood.
i raised myself on British-style black tea where the rule was simple: boiling water only for 5 or more minute in a big pot brewed long and strong. high quality leaves never get bitter. the Chinese gongfu style is brewed like most hong chas — so called black teas. off the boil or 95C for 1-2 minutes. smoky notes called “empyreumatic” that hint at bacon, a floral nose, maple, and longan, the darker cousin of lychee