Thursday, June 18, 2009

REVIEW: Green Hill Tea, Lapsang Souchong (Two Grades)

Green Hill Tea

(Please note update at end, with personal e-mail from none other than Norwood Pratt about this tea.)

My Internet friend, George Zhang, sent me several very delicious Lapsang Souchong teas recently, which were very popular with my family and friends. Also, a reviewer on, who is the resident Lapsang Souchong maven, wrote that Green Hill's LSs were "da bomb." I anxiously await her formal review on the Tea Reviews Web site to hear the rest of her thoughts.

You can purchase this tea here: Strangely, George's Web site does not reflect the various grades and prices of his different Lapsang Souchong teas, including those reviewed here. I would recommend contacting them directly via the Web site, in order to ensure you are getting the correct product. It is definitely worth the extra effort, and George Zhang is very helpful.

For me, as I've chronicled elsewhere, when I began my journey into the world of tea, I discovered LS many years ago, and I overdosed on it. After that, I have avoided smoky teas (including Russian Caravan, and some English Breakfast blends). When I mentioned this on Facebook, George challenged me that he thought his LS could win me over. I took him up on his challenge. He won.

I would like to invite you, fair reader, to explore high-end Lapsang Souchong further in a couple other blog posts I created regarding Green Hill's Lapsang Souchongs. In particular, the location and method of preparation for these teas, and how they are set apart from cheaper, less authentic LSs, may spell the difference between loving and hating this kind of tea. I know many people cannot stand Lapsang Souchong, who might love this tea because it is grown in the ancestral home of this type of tea, using just the right type of leaf, smoked in just the right way with just the right kind of pine tree. Because these specialized elements cost a lot to bring to the market, it's good to know that this is definitely worth it.

Link here:

and especially here:


Lapsang Souchong Special Grade

PREPARATION: 3 minutes, water just under boiling, 1 tsp to 1 cup

"Special" grade is the Green Hill Tea middle grade of LS. It was smooth, light, and the smoke was not at all overwhelming. There was a very pleasing huigan [sweet aftertaste] of roasted honey, which was quite surprisingly sweet for an unsweetened, smoked tea. Even my seven-year-old boy was able to drink this with no sugar or milk, because it was not in the least bitter. The liquor is a beautiful golden color.

Silver Tippy Lapsang (Top Grade)

Preparation: 3 minutes, just under boiling

I heated up the pot with the steam as the pot came up the boil. The aroma that came from the pot was very surprising-- bright, almost floral, with only a hint of smoke, but not at all overwhelming. Wow, so very fragrant.


SMOOTH, smooth, and very smooth. Very restrained, not too smoky at all. The cup is a very shiny, rich amber color.

My wife said: "Smooth. I'm not tasting any bitterness on my tongue right now."

It's in the aftertaste that the very high quality of this tea declares itself. The lingering huigan is honey, pine smoke, and a wisp of orchids or lilacs. Surprisingly mild, fragrant tea, and as smooth as glass or spun silk, without a hint of the acrid burn or heaviness one would expect from a typical Lapsang Souchong. What an extraordinary cup of tea.

UPDATE: Patty at writes:

BTW, I mentioned that tea to Norwood Pratt in passing (in an email), and received this back --

"I bet I know that Bohea you love--it's from the Jiang Family back in the Wuyi Nature Reserve if I'm thinking of the right stuff--simply the world's best."