When you ask about Lapsang Souchong at a Chinese tea market, the sellers will most likely show you a black tea that is not smoked, different from the orthodox Lapsang Souchong tea, which smells strongly of pinewood smoke. We are talking about Xiao Chi Gan 小赤甘 tea.

Lapsang Souchong is believed to be the oldest black tea in the world, originating from Tong Mu Guan of Wuyi. For most of history it was scented with pine smoke and exported overseas to Europe and America. Lapsang Souchong black tea has also become famous in China in recent decades. However, in the domestic market, the smoky flavor of Lapsang Souchong tea was not liked by Chinese tea lovers. To meet domestic demand, farmers have slightly changed the processing of traditional Lapsang. The aroma of pine wood smoke was removed and instead of shortening the leaves as was traditionally done for export, the teas were left whole leaves. Xiao Chi Gan 小赤甘 is based on one bud and one or two leaves (not yet fully open) plucking style harvested in late April to early May at the tea garden in Tong Mu Guan. It is known that the best quality Xiao Chi Gan should be made from rock-grown tea plant material and should be a mixture of local cultivars in the right proportion.

The manufacturing of the Xiao Chi Gan black tea includes the following steps: withering - rolling - oxidation - stopping oxidation in the wok pan (kill green) - charcoal roasting - drying.

Xiao Chi Gan is roasted in an iron wok, just like green tea. This is a traditional procedure going back a long way in history. Roasting kills enzymes in tea leaves and stops the oxidation.

Drying is done in an oven, which can be heated with either electricity or charcoal. The heat from the charcoal is easier to control, more natural and overall it simply produces better tea.

The Chinese name of black (red) tea Xiao Chi Gan 小赤甘 speaks for itself. Xiao Chi Gan translated into English means "small, red and sweet". The leaves are small, the plucking style is one bud and one or two leaves from small tea trees growing on rocky ground (mixed cultivars). The color of the brew is red, indicating good processing, the taste is sweet and mild. In the birthplace of this tea, there is debate as to whether its name should contain the name of Lapsang Souchong tea, but the opinions of experts rather agree that it should not. Although Xiao Chi Gan tea is a modified Lapsang Souchong, it is a different tea.