Okay, we have to admit something. There are lots of teas that we adore. There are lots of teas we like, and there’s lapsang souchong. A friend gave us a box of Twinings’ lapsang souchong tea, but we just couldn’t get on with it. It’s something of an acquired taste. One that’s far too smoky and potent for us, but you shouldn’t take our word for it because it’s a very popular tea that countless people enjoy. You might know about its divisive flavour and notes, but what are some lapsang souchong benefits?
What is Lapsang Souchong?
Lapsang Souchong is a black tea that originated in China, and it has a woody, smoky, almost tobacco-like taste. The Tea Makers website briefly explains its history by telling an oft-repeated story about how a passing army camped at a tea production facility in the 17th century. Once the soldiers had left, the farmers had to work quickly to catch up with the tea harvest, so they smoked the leaves over pine embers to make them dry faster. The tea became popular with foreign traders and is now enjoyed worldwide. You can buy it loose leaf or in tea bags.
Can you enjoy lapsang souchong with milk?
Traditionally, you serve lapsang souchong on its own, but you can add milk and sugar if you’d prefer.
Lapsang Souchong Benefits
There are many reported benefits of teas – both black and green. Whilst it’s important to remember not to get carried away (tea isn’t a magic health bullet), it does have a long history of being used in Eastern medicine. In the West, emerging research also suggests that it has health benefits, even helping protect against cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Many health benefits associated with black teas like lapsang souchong are due to the antioxidants like theaflavin. Whilst we often hear about the benefits of green tea, it’s interesting to note that the oxidation process, which turns tea leaves from green to black, actually increases the levels of antioxidants. Antioxidants help protect us from free radicals, which can cause DNA damage and increase our risk of several common illnesses and diseases, including cardiovascular disease. This makes lapsang souchong a good choice for anyone looking to support their general health.
One study published in the science journal molecules reports several potential health benefits ‘including fat-reducing and glucose-lowering capabilities and lifestyle-related disease prevention’, which may include ‘anticancer, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial’. It’s also been reported that black tea may reduce cholesterol and help protect the brain. The caffeine in lapsang souchong tea can also help boost metabolism, helping aid in weight loss or maintenance. It has a lower caffeine content than other teas, so it’s suitable for anyone looking for a quick pick-me-up without the full-blown effects of other caffeinated teas.
Lapsang souchong and cancer
There has been some concern that lapsang souchong is carcinogenic because the leaves are smoked. Lapsang souchong sold in the EU is smoked in ways that don’t result in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PCH) residues that occur when burning wood. PCH molecules are considered toxic to humans.
Lapsang souchong is something of an acquired taste with its intensely smoky flavour. However, there are several reported health benefits for those who enjoy it, including a boost in free-radical fighting antioxidants and a metabolism boost. If you find the taste too much, you can always add a small amount to another black tea for a smoky hit without the overwhelming taste that sometimes puts people off.