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Cooking with Lapsang Souchong

Lapsang souchong is a fascinating tea. People either love it or hate it. I’ve been winning some converts for it at the tea bar, though, by recommending a use other than drinking it: cooking with it.


When using a nice whole-leaf lapsang souchong like this one, it’s very important to crush the leaves before using them as a rub. I use a mortar & pestle to grind them to a powder.

For those unfamiliar with it, lapsang souchong is a black tea that’s smoked instead of using typical tea drying techniques. Traditionally, it is dried in bamboo baskets over a wet pine fire, which gives it an aroma much like sitting near a campfire. A couple of my pipe smoking friends have compared it to a Latakia tobacco. It’s also one of the primary types of tea used in the Russian Caravan blend. I know. Lapsang souchong sounds like a very strange tea — and I’ll confess it’s not your run-of-the-mill Lipton.

I was visiting another tea shop and chatting with the owner earlier this year. As I was buying some lapsang souchong to drink, she asked if I’d tried using it as a rub. That, by golly, got my mind spinning. Since then, my wife and I have tried variations on several different kinds of meats and fish — and on meatballs, too!

Give this recipe a try, and let me know what you think. If you tweak it for your taste, please share that, too. I used the Cascade Smokehouse from our tea bar for this.

Salmon Souchong


  • Four salmon fillets (the ones we use are about 1/2″ thick — thick fillets require longer cooking times)
  • 1 ounce lapsang souchong
  • 1 tbsp fresh ground black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1 small lime


  1. Cut lime in quarters.
  2. Crush garlic in press and put in a skillet with butter over low heat.
  3. Moisten salmon filets.
  4. Grind tea into powder using mortar & pestle.
  5. Add pepper and paprika to tea powder and mix well.
  6. Remove excess moisture from fish and place skin side down on plate or cutting board.
  7. Apply tea powder mixture liberally to top side of fillets.
  8. Once butter is melted, turn heat up to medium-high and place salmon in pan, skin-side down.
  9. Cook for about 5 minutes, then flip salmon. If you wish to remove the skin, now is the time to do it. It should lift right off with a spatula.
  10. Cook about another 5 minutes, until salmon is flaky.
  11. Remove from skillet and serve with lime wedges.

Give it a try. It’s also great on the barbecue (my wife prefers that to the pan-fried version). And for goodness’ sake, drink some of that lapsang souchong along with your dinner!

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