This syrup is like a gentle fire in the woods on a cool night, replete with comfort and smoke, soft and warming, it can instantly elevate a drink from good to heavenly and it’s stupid simple to make. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t always have a bottle of this in your fridge to wow and delight yourself and your guests with some serious nommage. This syrup is intentionally subtle, and you CAN infuse the tea for longer, or use more of it, BUT the beauty of this is in it’s subtlety, like whisps of smoke, it is soft and ephemeral, dancing through your nose and across your palate without taking center field and overpowering everything in its wake.
15g | 1/4 cup whole leaf lapsang souchong tea
475g/ml | 2 cups water
200g | 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp of white sugar
20g | 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
1/16 tsp salt (optional)
1/16 tsp citric acid (optional)
bring water to a boil in a small saucepan
remove from heat, add the tea leaves, cover and steep 10-20 minutes
for less tea flavour: strain into sugar (plus salt and citric if using) and stir until sugar dissolves
for more tea flavour: add sugar to tea before straining, allow to sit for 5 minutes, then strain
stir in salt and citric acid (if using)
pour into a clean and sanitized container (preferably glass) and allow to cool to room temp before refrigerating
will keep in the fridge for at least a month, or in the freezer for at least 6 months
watch for increased cloudiness (syrup will be slightly cloudy from the tannins) or mold growth, both of which indicate spoilage
The ingredients here are easy peasy, some good whole leaf lapsang souchong (if you’re not familiar, check out my ingredient profile on it by clicking the name,) sugar, brown sugar, and water (also, optionally, a pinch of salt and citric acid). That’s it. A basic simple syrup infused with lusciousness. You can make this without the brown sugar, especially if you’re using a less refined sugar, but the hints of molasses richness really help to power up the richness and highlight the smoky, resinous qualities of the tea. The salt also helps to further enhance the lightly savory qualities, while the citric acid helps to stave off the oxidation of the tea and increases it’s storage time.
I’ve played around with steeping times on this quite a bit, i’ve settled on 15 minutes as the optimum time, extracting a nice balance of the smoke and tea flavours, without drawing out too much of the tannins. You can taste the tea, but it isn’t strong enough to overshoot the smoke, which is really what we want. You can always steep for longer if you want, but i feel like the syrup becomes more black tea and less specifically lapsang souchong. Shorter steep times will provide you with the smoke, but not enough of the tea or resinous/balsamic notes, 10 minutes is really a minimum with this one, don’t go less than that, at 10 you will have extracted most of the ephemeral qualities without much of the tea hit.
Once the tea has steeped on it’s own, either strain directly into your sugar OR stir in the sugars (as well as the salt and/or citric acid, if using) and continue stirring until dissolved, allow it to sit for another 5 minutes and strain. This steeping after adding the sugar helps to draw out moisture from the leaves and extract more of the non smoky flavour components, so if you’re just going for smoky yums and less tea flavour, go with the strain into sugar instead. Pour into a clean and sterile glass vessel of your choice, allow it to cool to room temp and place in the fridge. It will keep for at least a month, as with any simple syrup, watch for signs of cloudiness or mold (this syrup will be slightly cloudy from the start due to the tannins) which are quick indications of bacterial growth, if that happens, toss it. You can also store this in the freezer for 6 months or longer, keep in mind that due to the sugar this won’t freeze hard, so you won’t be able to freeze it into cubes.
Use this to gussy up your lattes, teas, cocktails….use it as a syrup for pancakes, or sweeten your oatmeal…just go crazy with it. You can always make some more [and you will you definitely will]