The story goes that an army once commandeered a tea factory for barracks in feudal China, and when they cleared off, the tea makers did not have enough time to dry the tea leaves before market day. To speed things up, they put the tea over wood fires, whereby the smoke found its way into the tea flavour, and the unique taste was a revelation. But we suspect a few customers demanded a refund, for Lapsang Souchong has always been a love-it-or-hate-it tea.
To make Lapsang Souchong today, tea leaves are withered over spruce or pine fires. With an aroma that evokes a well-stoked fireplace, this tea is also a perfect complement to fish or meat dishes, fried breakfasts, nuts, and anything else blessed by the gift of fire.