About Zheng Shan
Zheng Shan is a style of smoked black tea made in the Wuyi Mountains in Northwest Fujian Province of China. With a bright liquor, natural sweetness, soft minerality and a gentle smoke character similar to a scotch, Zheng Shan is a refined and elegant black tea, and has become the most sought after smoked tea in all of China.
Where There's Smoke
While you may have heard the name Lapsang Souchong generally refer to smoked black teas, Zheng Shan specifically embodies the centuries-old history and technique of this highly prized tea. Lapsangs are more widely produced, and are often made from inferior leaves and aggressively smoked, yielding a rough and coarse experience similar to a campfire.
Using traditional methods of first withering and twisting the leaves, then drying them by burning boughs of local horsestail pine, Zheng Shan teas are lightly smoked multiple times during the production process to craft a balanced flavor profile of sweetness and smokiness.
The History of Zheng Shan
As the story goes, Zheng Shan was first created as the result of a happy accident in the mid-seventeenth century. A troop of soldiers from the Northern Army in China marching through the Wuyi Mountains needed shelter, and so bedded down on the floor of a tea factory, resting on top of the tea leaves as they slept.
As the soldiers built a cooking fire to prepare their food, the tea leaves became infused with a smoky taste and aroma. Deciding to limit their losses, the tea producers rolled the leaves to finish them and delivered them to the markets of far-away villages, as the locals had no interest in this unintentionally produced style of tea. After this new tea reached the main port of Fujian, it quickly became a must-have beverage for the British royalty and aristocracy of the time.
Our Zheng Shan
Most Zheng Shan teas made in the Wuyi Mountains are not meant for the international market – they are saved for enjoyment within China. Because they are not produced for the international market, many did not pass our standards for pesticide usage. Determined to find a tea that would work for us, we reached out to our organic producer to replicate the experience.
And so the Zheng Shan we have today was produced exclusively for us from an organic garden in the Zhejiang Province. Dark and shiny, Zheng Shan leaves are as wiry as they are delicate, making them a beautiful tea for both a single-serve brewed cup or a complete gaiwan service.
While Lapsang is smoked in pinewood, Zheng Shan is smoked in a softer horsetail pine to elevate taste without overshadowing the flavor of the tea. It provides a more balanced and nuanced flavor of smoked black tea, with captivating aromas and flavors that develop equally on the nose and palate. Its aroma is robust, but a wonderful softness comes through once the tea is steeped. Complex and dark in color, we invite you to explore Zheng Shan on its own, or allow it to inspire your own dynamic tea latte recipes and dimensional cocktail creations that entice the senses and surprise your guests.