ingredient: lapsang souchong

by sj

shelf life: 18-24 months

flavour profile: smoky, resinous, balsamic, slightly musky fruit notes, woodsy, earthy

pairs well with: cinnamon, coffee, cream, eggs, ginger, grains, mushrooms, pasta, nuts, spices, vanilla

cuisines: all

special notes: use a variety that has a strong, soft, smoky aroma without a bunch of broken leaves

Smoky, resinous, lightly fruity, woodsy, highly aromatic….this smoked tea is so incredibly versatile, so well suited to use outside of a cuppa, it really should be in your pantry, if it isn’t already. It starts with a tea variety closely related to oolong, already a good start, with fruity notes and mild flavour, this is then dried and smoked over a pinewood fire, providing that delightful soft smoky balsamic aroma and flavour, which is both intense in the nose and light on the palate. Originally produced in the Wuyi region of china, demand for the tea has increased and varieties can be found from other regions, the ones from Wuyi typically being considered of highest quality and commanding the highest price.

While lapsang makes a delightful cup of brew, it’s insanely delicious as a flavouring agent in an incredible array of dishes, bring that wonderful aroma and taste to anything you throw at it. It seems best suited for dishes that don’t involve other highly aromatic ingredients that might compete or cover it’s powerful, yet delicate, characteristics, so best to avoid pairing it up with say cardamom, which might battle for supremacy. Similarly i avoid using it with overly floral components, as the rich smokiness easily masks these sorts of compounds and can lead to an unpleasant outcome, best to stick with spices (it goes crazy good with ginger), woodsy and earthy flavours (especially mushrooms) , and rich ingredients (cream, eggs, vanilla).

When picking some up, look for leaves that are less broken if you can, and always smell it, the smoke notes should be very strong, but not harsh, heavily resinous, with an almost sweet vanilla undertone. If it smells flat, or harsh, pass it up and keep looking, you don’t want that.

The tea presence in the flavour is far more subtle than the smoke, it is definitely on the milder side for black teas, closer to an oolong than say an assam, so you won’t have to worry about strong bitter or tannic notes permeating your dish, even when steeped for a long time. Having said that, the smokiness is rather volatile, long periods of uncovered simmering will dramatically reduce the very qualities we seek when using this tea, so avoid that.

Try this as a flavouring for desserts, especially those containing nuts, chocolate, coffee, vanilla, and creamy ingredients, use it to add some richness to milky beverages, in savory dishes to elevate them to a new level….so very many uses, don’t be afraid to play around with it. Due to it’s mild tea qualities (that lack of bitterness and tannic quality) you can grind this into a powder to add flavour to dishes as well, sprinkled lightly over various foods, it adds some serious pop.

you can pick some up online, here.

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