Review of Lapsang Souchong Wild Black Tea (Ye Sheng Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong)

9 of 105 of 55 of 594 of 100

A lovely tea, mellow, and complex, among my favorite Lapsang Souchongs ever sampled. Thank you again to TeaVivre for the sample! This is a traditional Chinese lapsang souchong, it lacks the strong smoky aroma that the more widely-known style of tea popular in the West has. Compared to other traditional Lapsang Souchongs, this was the smoothest I've ever tried, and the most subtle, although it had a slightly weaker warming quality and weaker cocoa notes in the aroma.

The fine, wiry leaf looks slightly dusty and has a beautiful and pleasing fragrance, suggesting sweetness. It is not at all smoky like the British-style Lapsang Souchong; rather it has a strong malty aroma, a little like high-grade Assam and Yunnan teas, but much softer-smelling. The smell is so good, it makes me excited to try the cup.

The brewed cup is extremely mellow. The mouthfeel is soft. The aroma is subtle, a little like cocoa, a little vegetal as well, and there are some spicy notes mid-sip. Flavor is surprisingly sweet, especially in the middle of the sip. There is little astringency unless you brew it very strongly, and then there is a balance of astringency and bitterness. Only the faintest hint of smokiness, only when brewed strong. The aroma of the brewed cup is also much less malty than I expected from the smell of the leaf.

Infuses slowly. Brewing with a teaspoon of leaf per cup, I found that I like a 5 minute first steep. Longer and it becomes slightly astringent and the aroma gets muddled, although people who like richer cocoa notes might like a very long first steep. Alternatively this tea works well for gong fu brewing. I was able to get a surprising amount of steeps through any brewing method...I got three steeps even with a single teaspoon of leaf and a long first infusion, which is almost unheard of for a black tea. You can watch the leaf unfurling very slowly, it's not even fully unfurled after a five minute steep.

The character of the tea changes a lot through the steeps. I find it starts out more warming and it becomes fresher and cooler, with more herbaceous notes, in the later steeps.

I was astounded at how I was able to steep this tea three times, even using only a single teaspoon of leaf, and still produce such a pleasing cup. This tea may not grab your attention forcefully, but I thought it exquisite. I would gladly pay the premium in price over the smokier version, for this more nuanced variety.

Add your own review


Whiskey wrote:
on February 14th, 2018

Your description makes this tea sound truly delicious!

Do you recall, was it very highly caffeinated compared to other teas? That's one thing I can't seem to get a straight answer on. Some sites claim that lapsang souchong is more caffeinated than other varieties of tea, while others claim that it is less. I have noticed a more relaxing quality to roasted and smoked teas, in general. But, as I am sensitive to caffeine and can't drink most black teas, I feel the need to ask. If you remember, please do share. :)

Login or Sign Up to comment or reply.