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正山小種茶葉製作少不了「青樓」 Lapsang Souchong and the Green Chamber

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鲜叶在青楼中萎凋。

文 By: 許玉蓮 Hooi Yoke Lien

一提起正山小種就說它有難聞之煙火味的人,那是還未曾嘗過品質好的正山小種,優質正山小種的香味飽滿有層次感,入口帶變化,從濃厚之黑棗、桂圓香味溢出清甜、微微果酸滋味,再加一點點收斂性的口感,是一種很愉快的享受。

正山小種的香味是怎樣來?我們來看看它的製作方法:鮮葉——攤放——室內萎凋——揉捻——發酵——烘焙,茶葉就出爐了,製法似乎沒有太特別,事實上能夠令正山小種孕育出這種滋味的首要條件是:全部過程必須在一棟叫做「青樓」的地方進行。

「青樓」是一座什麼建築物長什麼樣子呢?它分兩層,中間只用樓板隔開,上層是萎凋房以及萎凋房外的走廊。底層是烘焙房,底層樓外的後面設置了一座燒松柴的灶爐,將濕松柴於地面排列成“T”字形或“一”字形,點然後使其慢慢燃燒,火溫和煙霧可從坑道引進烘焙房,坑道上蓋着可活動的磚頭,用人手移動來控制烘焙房的室內溫度,烘焙房頂上的樓板懸置着焙架。

以下說明制茶過程,鮮葉攤放:正山小種要選用鮮嫩的一芽二、三葉原料,鮮葉採摘回來時大多是雨水葉、露水葉,要攤放在萎凋房外的走廊樓板上(即不加溫的情況),使鮮葉表面上水分蒸發。

室內萎凋(即加溫):水分散發了的鮮葉,可移進萎凋房,均勻抖散在樓板的竹蓆上。這時的鮮葉是採用加溫萎凋的方法進行萎凋,利用下層焙架上放置之濕坯(即發酵過的葉)上升的熱氣使鮮葉葉受熱軟化。鮮葉失去光澤,葉質柔軟、梗折不斷、葉脈明顯、略有清香時萎凋告一段落。

揉捻:將萎凋好後的鮮葉拿去揉捻,一般壓力遵循輕、重、輕原則,其間解散團塊一次。揉至茶條緊捲,茶汁擠出,手捏成團,不易鬆散時即算可。

發酵:將揉捻葉裝入發酵專用竹筐,在發酵堆挖一小洞以利通氣,在竹筐上加蓋濕布,促進發酵,其間翻動一次,青草味消失而有茶的甜香顯露則成。

烘焙:將發酵葉(即濕坯)抖散均勻薄攤於竹製水篩上,然後置水篩於青樓吊架上,每片水篩呈半重疊,呈魚鱗似排列,進行烘乾程序,這時灶燒松柴的火溫不宜過高,必要時用磚頭堵住坑道使烘焙房溫度降低。

正山小種茶葉烘乾時必須進行低溫慢烘,利用熱力使之乾燥,而並非將茶葉放在松柴煙火上直接薰的,故此優質正山小種的香味是從茶的身骨頭內裡發出,而不是依附在茶葉表面而已,品嚐正山小種就要品到這種香與味能夠糾纏在一起的纏綿。

製作正山小種茶葉的「青樓」,是灶爐(提供火溫與煙香)、烘焙房(茶葉乾燥作用)、萎凋房(茶葉走水作用)以及鮮葉攤放處(茶葉蒸發水分作用)的一個完整結構的建築物,穿串期間的是松煙香的熱量。


People who describe Lapsang Souchong as an unpleasant tea with brashly smoky smell probably haven’t come across the really good ones. Premium Lapsang Souchong yields an infusion with layers of aroma unfolding in an alluring manner. Slightly astringent to the palate, it has the intensity of black dates and sweetness of dried longan with a hint of citric fruitiness, making it a very enjoyable brew.

How does this unique aroma of Lapsang Souchong come about? Its production involves the not uncommon processes of air-drying fresh leaves, indoor withering, rolling, enzymatic oxidation (fermentation) and roasting. But what makes Lapsang Souchong this distinct is where the entire production takes place: the Green Chamber.

How does this Green Chamber look like? There are two levels in here; the upper and lower levels are separated by wooden planks. There is a withering room, and a corridor outside of it on the upper level; and a smoke-roast room underneath. At the back of the Green Chamber is a stove fired by pinewood. Wet pinewood is laid out on the ground, in ‘T’ shape or horizontally. As the wood slowly burns, the heat and smoke rises up through vents into the smoke-roast room inside the Green Chamber. The vents, covered by movable bricks, can be manually adjusted to control the indoor temperature. Hanging from the wooden-planked ceiling of the smoke-roast room are some racks.

Let us take a look at each step of the production. For Lapsang Souchong, the first step is air-drying fresh leaves. Only the top ‘two leaves and a bud’ or ‘three leaves and a bud’ are used as the raw materials. Harvested leaves, mostly covered in rain or dew drops, are spread on the corridor outside of the withering room. Without any application of heat, they are left to air-dry.

Indoor withering (heat-facilitated): After having some of the water naturally evaporated, the leaves are being moved into the withering room. They are spread evenly on the bamboo mat on the wooden floor planks for heat-facilitated withering. Oxidized leaves placed on the racks at the lower level of the Green Chamber generate heat that rises and softens the fresh leaves. At the end of withering, the fresh leaves will have lost their natural lustre. They will be soft and won’t break when bent. The veins have become clearly visible and there is a faint aroma.

Rolling: Withered leaves will be collected for rolling. Rolling is executed by alternating light and high pressure; the leaves are unclumped once during the process. Workers will roll until strips of tealeaf are tightly twisted, tea juice is released, and the strips won’t easily come apart when squeezed together.

Enzymatic oxidation (fermentation): Rolled tealeaves will then be placed in bamboo baskets reserved for enzymatic oxidation. A hole is made in the middle of the heap of rolled tealeaves to facilitate air ventilation. They are covered with wet cloth to promote enzymatic oxidation. The heap will be turned once during the process. When completed, the grassy smell will be replaced by a sweet and mellow aroma characteristic of tea.

Smoke-roasting: Oxidized leaves are spread evenly and thinly on bamboo sieves. The bamboo sieves are placed onto the hanging rack of the Green Chamber for drying. These sieves are stacked in such a way that they half-overlap each other, such as roof tiles or fish scales. The heat from the burning pinewood should not be too high; where necessary, bricks are used to block certain vents to lower the temperature of the smoke-roast room.

Drying of Lapsang Souchong must be done by smoke-roasting at lower temperature. The leaves should be dried by the heat from the smoke, and not by direct roasting with the burning pinewood underneath. That explains why Lapsang Souchong imparts a distinct smoky aroma that comes from deep down within, rather than just on the surface. It is no overstatement to say that the sheer joy of drinking Lapsang Souchong stems from its intertwining aroma and flavour.

The Green Chamber of Lapsang Souchong is essentially an architectural structure comprising a stove (for heat and smoky aroma), smoke-roast room (for drying of tealeaves), withering room (for dehydration) and the corridor (for air-drying and water evaporation of fresh leaves). What binds them all is the heat generated by the smoke of the burning pinewood.


鲜叶在楼板上摊放。


烘焙房顶上楼板有吊架,茶叶在烘干中。

Black Tea Lapsang Souchong Tea Tips 正山小种 红茶

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