Do you know the actual meaning of Lapsang Souchong / 正山小種紅茶?

Lapsang souchong

Lapsang souchong (Photo credit: Wikipedia)








A friend in LinkedIn, Thomas Kasper, asked me if I sell Lapsang Souchong (正山小種)?

I said “Sorry, I only sell Taiwanese tea.  As far as my knowledge, Lapsang Souchong is from China.”

It should be the end of the story.  But, there was something weird which arouse my curiosity.  In Chinese, we call Lapsang Souchong as 正山小種, pronounced like ” Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong”   I can relate Souchong to XiaoZhong, but Lapsang is nothing like ZhengShan.

Then, there are two questions following

  1. What is the meaning of the Chinese name “Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong” /正山小種?
  2. Where did the translation “Lapsang Souchong” come from? and what is its meaning?

Let’s start with the first one.  “Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong” /正山小種 is originated from Huang Gan Shan /黃岡山 in Wuyi Mt. Region, not that many people think is from Lapsang.  In fact, there is no such a mountain called Lapsang near Wuyi Mt. region.  Unfortunately, it already become a common myth, even some Chinese people believe so, thanks to the wide spread of wrong information in internet.

“Zheng Shan” means “the original mountain” (in here refers to Wuyi Mt., to differentiate from other mountains in other places) “Xiao Zhong” means “the small leaf cultivar” So “Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong”/正三小種 actually means” the small leaf cultivar from Wuyi Mt.”

The second question, where did the translation “Lapsang Souchong” come from?  It is actually from the local dialect, Fuzhou language.  Lapsang means “smoked by pine wood”(Lap means Pine, Sang means Smoke)   the meaning of “Lapsang Souchong” is “the small leaf cultivar smoked by pine wood”.  As the smoke flavor is the main characteristic of Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong”/正三小種, it is understandable it is called as “Lapsang Souchong”/ the small leaf cultivar smoked by pine wood” when being exported in nineteen century.




2 thoughts on “Do you know the actual meaning of Lapsang Souchong / 正山小種紅茶?

  1. Pingback: Your Weekly Tea Review: Lapsang Souchong (Smoked Chinese Black Tea) – The Online Portfolio of Akiva S. Weinstein

  2. Regarding the origin of the name “Lapsang”: Another Chinese name for Lapsang Souchong is 立山小种, or Lishan Xiaozhong in Mandarin, or Laapsaan Siuzung in Cantonese. Sounds quite a bit like Lapsang Souchong, right?

    The story about lapsang meaning “pine smoked” in the Fuzhou dialect is most likely made up.

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