Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong Smoked Wuyi Black

Tea type
Black Tea
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Vanilla, Smoke, Cream, Mineral, Pine
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Loose Leaf
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Edit tea info Last updated by Joshua Smith
Average preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 45 sec 8 oz / 224 ml

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From Verdant Tea

Beautifully balanced, delicate and masterfully smoked, this exquisite Lapsang Souchong style smoked Wuyi black tea is one of the finest we’ve ever found. It is crafted with care by the Li family, growing their tea in the Wuyi mountains in Xing Village. The Li family devotes most of their harvest to fine Wuyi oolongs, honing the difficult craft of rolling and roasting, so it’s no wonder the floral and delicate qualities of fine oolong comes through in this Lapsang Souchong. Anyone who enjoys roasted oolong or chocolatey black teas will love this unique offering.

The aroma of the leaf has fresh pine sap and notes frankincense resin from the pine needle smoking process. Intriguingly, a nuanced saltiness comes through to compliment the woody aromas, much like the saltiness of fine Japanese incense. While many Lapsang Souchong teas assault the nose with their intensity, this tea offers a more mature and subtle experience.

The flavor is warm and cozy with chocolate and cream, and it’s aroma evokes a hot cedar sauna or wine-soaked oak barrels, aging in a wine cellar. Fruity dark floral notes shine in the aftertaste as marigold and sumac. These sweet and tart florals are actually strengthened by the light, delicate smokiness of the tea. The pine smoke flavors bring out the signature mineral notes of Wuyi tea, and push forward a beautiful hot chocolate taste that lingers on.

This tea steeps out for many infusions, yielding a refined and clean tea more vaporously musty than smokey, with the sweet and salty kick of brown sugar. We highly recommend trying this tea, as it opens up a whole new way of thinking about smoked teas, and offers a gorgeous perspective on the terroir of the Wuyi mountains.

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35 Tasting Notes

6037 tasting notes

evening tea because this was all i wanted tonight with a splash of maple syrup. SO. Good. Just the right balance of smoke and deliciousness for me nom nom nom nom nom


nomnomnom little heffalump ;-)


Ha! You guys make me laugh.

Terri HarpLady

Did you sip it up through your trunk???

Terri HarpLady

I mean, now that you’re a heffalump, you can do that, right?


Of course! While Wearing my rubber boots in case I splash

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3115 tasting notes

1 T + 8oz X 3/5 min
I still haven’t done a gongfu steepings with this tea yet, & I really should.
(Sars, I’m going to buy that damn yixing I wanted for smoky teas now. I blame you. hahaha)
Anyway, it’s very tasty, in a pine & brown sugar kind of way, not overly smokey, but delicious. I’m drinking it plain, but I happen to know for a fact that a little Maple syrup turns this one into a wonderful dessert.


Who meeeeee? Lookie here… I asked YOU for a link for teaware. I can’t help it that you kept on going :p


MzPriss, the pot is gorgeous. I keep saying myself I don’t need it(. The only excuse I need 100ml or smaller)

Cameron B.

MzPriss, that’s my favorite one from their new collection. SO jealous!

Terri HarpLady

Priss, that is Beautiful!
I ordered this one, which I’ve been drooling over for weeks
Sars ;)


Both of your new teapots are so lovely! Eeeee!!! Teawares!!


OMG!!! Those are both BEAUTIFUL!!!!


And the one Terri got also comes in a round, fat – pumpkin style… whimper…

Terri HarpLady

Yeah, that roundish one is really cute too. I picked mine cuz I like the simple designs on the lid, & I already have several round teapots, so I liked the different shape.


Terri, I saw that pot few weeks ago. Gorgeous !




Those tea pots are all so cute!


OMG those black pots. * Restrains self *

Terri HarpLady

I know priss…I know!

Whispering Pines Tea Company

Terri, if you have an overabundance of this tea and don’t want it all the badly, I will buy it from you…it’s my favorite tea ever I think. lol

Terri HarpLady

Brendan…maybe we’ll do a trade?

Whispering Pines Tea Company

I like that idea! :) I’ll send you a message!

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673 tasting notes

I got a Google+ message from Eric:
“What…look…the leaves are HUGE!” with a picture attached showing the Zheng Shan Ziao Zhong Smoked Wuyi Black tea by Verdant (say that 3 times fast!).

I answered back,
“OK Eric, I’ll pick some up as soon as David Duckler makes it available on the Verdant website…”, which I did immediately.

Then, I got sick right after the tea arrived. Bah!

As soon as I was well enough to drive, I picked myself up and off I went with my one ounce of precious tea booty. (I also have a small amount of puerh aged in a brandy barrel from Oregon, a gift from Eric to try that’s amazing…but that’s another story)

This tasting was met with great anticipation by Eric, Joe, Andy, Sam and owner George.

After much swooning over the aroma of the leaves…(a light smoky, sweetness)…Joe deftly worked gongfu magic, pouring amber liquor into many tiny tasting cups.

The wet leaves smelled like bbq that had been marinated in a rich jammy Paso Robles Zinfindel. The scent was floral…right in the middle of all that meaty, sour ripeness.

Eric tasted the tea first.

“Ah, this is what a lapsang should taste like when it’s done right. It’s what I’ve heard about but never tasted. I could drink this every day!”

I took my time…and a sip.

Light smoke, almost not there but salty next to sweet vanilla (Eric said that’s from the pine) and camphor. Floral aroma and very light smoke. Smooth. Layered and complex. Cocoa…

I don’t think one tasting can honor such a tea, time is needed.

Everyone raved…yes…raved about the tea.

The smoked tea’s most of us are used to drinking are far different from a superior craft tea such as this one.

My highest rating goes to this Lapsang Souchong.
In my opinion it is the example…the standard, of what a smoked tea should and can be.


Whispering Pines Tea Company

I had to buy this too :) its fantastic!


I knew you would appreciate this tea. You just don’t come across the real deal very often if ever. You, a smoky tea junkie, a..connoisseur is saying something huge when you proclaim “it’s fantastic”!

Whispering Pines Tea Company

It’s such a huge difference between the usual lapsangs…it’s not smoke as much as the feel of the warm pinewood on the morning after a campfire…truly amazing :)


You are a poet at heart and friend of the pine. True…there isn’t a roaring campfire or brush with a pine tree (needles in the face).


Hmm, I never had truly smokey tea…like coffee? zheng shan xiong zhong..I was wondering what it is..then found it on wiki: 正山小种. LOl. I will one day visit Wuyi mountain in Fujian, since a friend of mine has a family tea farm there


Not like coffee, it can taste more cinder depending on the tea. I’ve had savory smoke that reminds me more of BBQ and some that are like walking through the forest in the morning when you smell woodsmoke. I’ve lived in the woods in California.


that’s a beautiful description…woodsmoke…noted for wuyi black…so i guess its stronger than tie guan ying


Yes, very much stronger and not floral or vegital.

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325 tasting notes

I had to come back just to talk about this tea.

I received a small sample in the tea of the month box and I got really excited. Those of you who know my review history know that Upton Tea’s “black dragon” is one of my “gotta have it on the shelf at all times” daily drinking teas. I rave about black dragon because it is a strong, powerful lapsang that doesn’t make you think of pork rinds or bacon or any other kind of meat product. It isn’t greasy or salty or sharp, or whatever it is that makes a lot of people think of cured meat when they smell it. But, at the end of the day, black dragon is still a very smokey tea.

But this… this tea is a whole other universe.

I opened the sample pack and thought … 4H fair. The smell of feed hay in a hot, close barn. Those pellets you can get from the candy vending machine to feed the animals at a petting zoo.

The wet leaf? Oh man.

The wet leaf is like drinking the zoo. Seriously.

Do you want to feel six years old, with a balloon on your wrist and the sounds of exotic birds in your ears, arguing about whether to go to the monkey house or the big cat exhibit? Drink this tea.

Do you want to remember what it felt like to hug a sheep that hadn’t been shorn in a long, long time? Drink this tea.

I don’t see this tea replacing anyone’s beloved lapsang or caravan tea. It’s too different. It doesn’t fill the same gap in the line-up, I don’t think.

But it is a marvelously transcendent, nuanced, delightful tea. You must try it. You absolutely must, no matter how much you think you don’t like smoked tea. Try this one.

I’m just glad I have a well seasoned lapsang yixing to do this tea justice with.

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Terri HarpLady

Glad you’re here, Jim. Glad you shared about this tea too!
And, of course, I love your post.
Especially that last sentence. I was talking with somebody about yixing the other day, & when they asked if I had one for black teas I said no. I’m using a yixing sized porcelain little pot (at this time) for my blacks, because I felt that if I added another yixing to my collection for black teas, I’d have to add several, LOL, to honor the various flavor profiles.

When Verdant announced that they were offering the tea, I immediately got some, & drinking it, I knew that my first ‘black tea’ yixing would have to be for the select smokey teas in my collection. And then I’ll have to get one for the Dian Hongs…sigh…and then…


Petting zoo tea! Love the imagery!

Jim Marks


I have a yixing for the following teas:

shou pu erh
yunnan golden
laoshan black (this has a unique enough flavor it needs its own pot)
lapsang souchong

I also have a purion for Da Hong Pao. Purion is like yixing, in that it is an unglazed clay pot, but it is specifically for wuyi type oolongs and pu erh. I’d like to get a second one for sheng pu erh at some point.

Those are the teas I drink often enough to make having invested in five pots worth the money. I use all these pots at least once a week.

I use gaiwain for all the occasional teas (verdant samples, green, floral oolongs, whatever).

Verdant now offers some lovely gaiwain — I prefer the wide, flat ones to the typical ones you see in the US which are tall and narrow.

I get my yixing from the Canadian tea site http://camellia-sinensis.com
They have some top shelf artisan stuff, but also some great entry level priced stuff too.

Terri HarpLady

I currently have 3 yixings:
lovely roasty Wuyi Oolongs
Then the aforementioned yixing sized porcelain for blacks, until I start buying separate pots for a few of them :)
Then I have an assortment of Gaiwans for other oolongs, greens, etc, & I agree, I prefer the short wide ones as well.
I haven’t looked at Purions, but I really enjoy the yixings I have, & am always looking at others, so thanks for the link!
I’m almost afraid to look…hahaha

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87 tasting notes

I got sent this in the Verdant TotM club a while ago and, I confess, I was seriously reluctant to try it. I’ve only ever tried one Lapsang Souchong before – it was a cheap bagged variety and, the way it was brewed, it totally overwhelmed me. It just was not for me. Even though I knew the quality of this would be FAR superior, the memory of that other tea just would not let me try this one…

I read a review from Sil, talking about brewing this Gong Fu, and it sounded awesome… It just kept playing on my mind… And then last night, the cravings defeated me and I set this tea as my Monday-morning treat. When I opened the bag of leaves, the smell almost made me regret my choice – I felt nauseous immediately. Still, all of those reviews couldn’t be wrong, surely?? Well…

My goodness. What a tea.

This has got to be one of the most incredible black teas I’ve ever tried. It’s sweet, it’s rich, and it is sooooo fragrant. But in a totally good way. In the liquor, the smokiness is a rich-yet-mild fragrance that makes a perfect background to the sweet vanilla notes. I enjoyed a good 8 or 9 steeps (3 in the morning and 5-6 tonight).

’nuff said.

Flavors: Vanilla

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I’m afraid of smoke sometimes (although I really love Butiki’s Coffee and Cigarettes)… your review makes me think I would love this. :))


YAY! super glad you enjoyed it

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591 tasting notes

If you like naked black teas than this is good one.

200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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3 tasting notes

I’m still figuring this tea out. I’ve had 5 sessions with it and still cant fully grasp it.
I just cant get this one flavor out of my mind when i drink it…..

Mint Skoal chewing tobacco. :-S

Hope i didnt ruin this tea for anyone. haha

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1111 tasting notes

ZSXZSW black tea was nicely sweet and smooth. Even though moderately smokey (bit of charcoal, pine, sandalwood incense), the tea is still smooth. There are also cedar notes early on. Later infusions ZSXZSW black tea smokey wanes and becomes chocolaty with a hint of floral in the background. A great tea to experience a gong fu journey with!

Full review on Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/zheng-shan-xiao-zhong-smoked-wuyi-black-tea/ bonus cute tea owl in tea cup!


What an adorable owl! This is among my favorites in smoky teas.

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2848 tasting notes

Decidedly NOT as good in a travel mug, probably because the smokiness is most noticeable in the aroma, which is hampered when drinking from a Timolino. Oh well. Didn’t have a lot of time to pick travel mug teas tonight.

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150 tasting notes

It is completely my fault that I don’t love this tea. I saw the word “smoked” in the name. I got some anyway. Not. My. Thing. The rest of this ounce will now be Brenden’s. Thing.

Flavors: Smoke


It’s nice to try something and then just give it away. :)

Whispering Pines Tea Company

Lame, I wrote like 10 hearts and it only posted one. Whatevz. All the hearts :P


Hahahah! I wonder why you only got one heart?


(I also only got one heart. :( )


I’m pretending there are 10 hearts Brenden

Whispering Pines Tea Company

Steepster is limiting the love :(


Steepster has a love-limiter :( bummer

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