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Talking Tea

Conversations about tea and tea culture

Dec 18, 2016

As temperatures begin to drop outdoors and autumn settles into early winter, the scent of smoke rising from chimneys fills the evening air in just about every place we visit in the cooler climates. But the unmistakable aroma and taste of smoke is not something many of us actively seek out in our teas, and the famously smokey Lapsang Souchong is often overlooked by serious tea drinkers.

So it's been quite a pleasant surprise discovering that high quality Lapsang Souchongs can have great levels of complexity and depth of flavor. Joining us today to chat about Lapsang Souchong are Zhen Lu and Phil Rushworth of Zhen Tea, an online tea company specializing in Chinese tea. We chat over two interesting varieties of Lapsang Souchong carried by Zhen Tea: we first sample a non-smokey version of Lapsang Souchong, which allows us to explore the base of the tea without the influence of the smoke, and then a top-grade Lapsang Souchong (pictured here), made by the same family that invented the Lapsang Souchong process several centuries ago.

Zhen and Phil talk with us about the origins of Lapsang Souchong and what distinguishes it from other teas, and especially from other smokey-tasting teas, in terms of its cultivar and processing. We discuss components of aroma and taste in both the non-smokey and top-grade versions. And Zhen and Phil also share some of their own tea journey with us and tell us a bit of how Zhen Tea came into being.

ADDED VIDEO COMPONENT: Phil and Zhen wanted everyone to be able to see as well as hear about brewing techniques for Lapsang Souchong, so after we finished our audio chat Phil switched on his camera and added a video component to this podcast. You can hear (and see) us talking about brewing this tea on Zhen Tea's YouTube channel by clicking here.

More info about Zhen Tea, including their online shop, is at the Zhen Tea website, You can also follow Zhen Tea on Facebook and Instagram at Zhentea, and on Twitter at @zhentea2014.


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Talking Tea is produced and hosted by Ken Cohen. You can follow Ken on Twitter @Kensvoiceken. 


This podcast features music from "Japanese Flowers" ( by mpgiiiBEATS ( available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license ( Adapted from original.


Photo courtesy of Zhen Tea.