Identify "Fujian X!" Can someone read some Chinese for me, please?
Recently Fleurdelily sent me a lovely parcel and she included a fair few of these little five gram packages. I couldn’t work out what it was, though, so she told me that she bought them from eBay and that they had been sold to her as being Lapsang Souchong of some sort. When she showed me the links to the seller it even said heavily smoked LS.
Well. I have tried a couple of these and I can tell you they are the least smoky heavily smoked LS leaves I have ever seen. They are, in fact, not smoked at all. This I can tell you with absolutely certainty. It is, however, definitely Fujian black. I’ll be very surprised indeed if it isn’t. So far I’ve come to think of it as ‘Fujian X’.
Personally I’m beginning to suspect that Fleurdelily might actually have been sent the wrong product by mistake in the first place. None of us can read this, so I had Husband take a few photographs of the wrapper.
This is the back. I think the numbers must be some sort of product id (top) and a telephone number (bottom).
These are the sides. I have no clue whether these are the right side up or not, but I suspect not. I decided not to start flipping the pictures, as I would be just as likely to turn them upside down.
Can anybody shed some light over this, please?
It says 正山小种 – zhēngshān xiǎozhǒng. Not all zhengshan xiaozhong is made with pine smoke, and these days, the unsmoked variety, as well as other red (black) teas from the same area, are very popular.
You can see some discussion about the origin of lapsang souchong (which comes from a phonetic transliteration of the Fujianese language).
So it’s not the wrong product after all, but probably unsmoked. That’s only my second unsmoked LS ever! I could get addicted to this stuff.
When you say that not all LS is made with pine smoke, do you mean that not all of them are smoked in general or that some are going through a different equivalent process than pine smoked?
Thank you, Will.
While it’s a subject about which there isn’t 100% agreement, I don’t think lapsang souchong is directly Min dialect for ‘zhengshan xiaozhong’. I think ‘lapsang souchong’ as used in the US would imply the smoked variety. I am not an expert, nor have I ever tried a good example, though I’ve read an article or two about the process. From what I understand, it should be a fairly gentle, natural process of smoking with pine needles, and may have a slightly less aggressive smoke taste than maybe some of the poor quality versions available.
I think that zhengshan xiaozhong can refer to either the smoked or unsmoked version of the same red tea; in Chinese, I think they’ll usually prepend ‘xun’ (smoked) if it’s the smoked style. I am not sure about the process of making the unsmoked variety, but I assume it’s made in the same way as other Chinese reds.
There is an interesting article about the process of making it in the Art of Tea issue 10, if you can manage to find a copy somewhere.