Wuyishan is a mountain range in the north of the western Chinese province of Fujian. In addition to its scenic beauty, the region is famous for its rock oolong teas as well as its “bohea” or “lapsang” black teas. While Bohea is an English generic term for black teas from Wuyishan, Lapsang black tea is much more specific.
What is Lapsang Tea?
The term “Lapsang tea” refers to black teas from the region around the village of Tong Mu in Wuyishan. Alternatively, this area is also referred to as “Zhengshan”, in English “original mountain”. The local tea plant variety is the Wuyi Cai Cha or Qizhong cultivar, which closely relates to the Wuyi rock tea cultivars. And just like Wuyi rock teas (Yancha Oolong teas), Lapsang black teas also owe their special character to the specific mineral composition of their home soil. Therefore, Lapsang Black Tea is not just any black tea from Wuyishan. Rather, the cultivar and the growing area within Wuyishan are important criteria for authentic Lapsang tea.
Among western tea lovers, Lapsang Black Tea is best known for a specific Lapsang sub-type, smoked Lapsang Souchong. In fact, there are several types of Lapsang Black Tea in Wuyishan. At this, the main factors responsible for variation are picking period and picking standard. The “Wuyi standard” for processing black Lapsang tea, however, is more or less the same for all types. The very exception to this is just the well-known, additionally smoke-infused Lapsang Souchong.
With its advent in the second half of the 16th century, Lapsang Black Tea is one of the oldest black tea varieties in the world. The first teas brought by sea from China to Europe (England) were Lapsang black teas. These were the standard for black tea in early British tea culture. It is also likely that the teas seeds and plants sent by Robert South from China to India in the 19th century were from Lapsang tea plants. Well, any Darjeeling connoisseur trying our Floral Lapsang will readily agree…
Wuyi Fruity Lapsang Black Tea
Just like our Floral Lapsang, our Fruity Wuyi Lapsang black tea also comes from Feng Shui Guan (风水 光) in the heart of the Zhengshan region. Also, picking standard (1 + 1), picking period (early spring) and basic processing characteristics are comparable for both teas. However, unlike the Floral Lapsang, which is a conventional “garden tea”, Fruity Lapsang comes from “semi-wild” tea plants. The over 60 year old, naturally growing tea plants even almost make it a “Lao Cong Cha” (“Lao Cong” = old bush, approx. 70 + years). In addition, the picking typically takes place with a delay of a few days to the Floral Lapsang…
After picking, the traditional Artisan processing comprises an end-to-end manual process. To this end, the tea leaves are first left to wither outdoors for an extended period. This is followed by the rolling and drying of the leaves under heat feed. After 2 sorting runs, consisting of manually sorting out inferior leaves, the tea leaves undergo the characteristic Wuyi roasting.
The tea has its name from its full-bodied, fruity-fresh taste. Both the parallels and the differences to the Foral Lapsang, i.e. between garden tea and naturally grown tea, become clearly evident here. In both cases, however, the harmonious combination of dominant fruity and/or floral notes with spicy roasted aromas and the mineral base characteristic for Wuyishan’s “zhengshan” is downright overwhelming.
The Chen family is a long-established tea producer family in Wuyishan. Today, their youngest daughter Cindy runs the family business in third generation. How her grandfather once came to Wuyishan as a tea picker to eventually become a tea garden owner himself in the course of China’s great land reform is stuff for a historical novel…
At the Chen’s, the cultivation and processing of all teas follows traditional, manual Artisan processes. In the family’s tea gardens, the tea plants thrive in their native, natural environment. Only this can guarantee the authenticity of genuine Wuyi teas. For more background and illustrations about SiamTea’s main producer partner in Wuyishan, please read my pertaining blog article:
My preparation recommendation for Wuyi Floral Lapsang Black Tea follows the western standard for preparing black teas. This means a water temperature of 90°-100°C (boiling hot) for a first infusion of 2-3 minutes infusion period. As a dosage, I recommend 4-5g tea leaves on 200ml of water. Of course, these parameters are only a starting point for exploring a tea and are customizable to individual preferences.
With preparation according to the above parameters, the tea has the potential for 2-3 full-value infusions. At this, the second infusion is in no way inferior to the first, with the fruity character remaining undiminished. In the third infusion, the floral notes become weaker and the mineral base prevails.
More authentic Wuyi teas at Siam Tea Shop
Wuyi Floral Lapsang Black Tea (Cindy Chen)
Qidan Da Hong Pao Oolong Tea (Cindy Chen)
Beidou Da Hong Pao Oolong Tea (Cindy Chen)
Rou Gui Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea (Cindy Chen)
Shui Xian Wuyi Yancha Oolong Tea (Cindy Chen)
Tie Luo Han Wuyi Yancha Oolong Tea (Cindy Chen)
Classic Lapsang Souchong (smoked) (Cindy Chen)
Wild Artisan Lapsang Souchong (unsmoked) (Wuyi Farmers Collective)
Wild Zhengshan Jin Jun Mei (Wuyi Farmers Collective)
Shui Jin Gui Wuyi Yancha Oolong Tea (Cindy Chen)