Finally – the real thing. Zhengshan Xiaozong in its native place of production, now a nature preserve in the middle of Wuyi Mountain. In the middle of that preserve is a village called Tong Mu, surrounded by semi-wild bushes, waving tall bamboo, and rare species of butterflies for which UNESCO has declared the area a sanctuary.
The original tradition was to use huge logs of wood downstairs to heat up a giant room with vents upstairs to dry the tea leaves, one of the many ways to finish a tea. The proper way is to manage the smoke in a way that does not leave smokiness on the leaves, but allow the smoke to draw out the cooked plum and cherry notes of a rich dark black tea, or Hongcha, particular to the varietals in this region. Somehow, as the legend goes, long ago, one of the producers attempted to use pine logs and pine needles to burn faster and create more smoke, in trying to expedite his drying process and flee from local bandits. He found the added pine smoke flavor to his liking, and his customers agreed. But this is a controlled, expertly done process, for the Chinese consider over smoking their teas to be a substandard product. We want what the smoke brings out in the tea, not for the smoke to take over the tea!
Somehow, the modern day versions have completely misunderstood this requirement, and today, Zhongshan Xiaozong is rarely even produced in Wuyi region. They are basically black teas smoked in an enclosed room purposefully, and tastes like barbecue. Aside from the obvious carcinogenic consequences, such ‘Lapsang Souchong’ has never been good enough for us to carry.
So now we introduce the real thing- Lapsang made at this hidden Tong Mu Village, in the original ancient facilities, using their local wood, and smoked properly to bring out the unique plum notes of the tea- the connoisseur original of an unfortunately basterdized tea. We just want to set the record straight!