The Fujian Martini – made with Lapsang Souchong

This is a really easy martini to make. You infuse gin or vodka with Lapsang Souchong tea and use this to create a martini in the same way as a classic.

This is another of the “mar-tea-nis” (martinis made with gin/vodka infused with tea) and is my joint favourite alongside an Earl Grey Martini. It’s also pretty simple to put together.

Lapsang Souchong is my tea of choice these days. It’s strong and smoky and just what I need to get me going in the morning.

This style of tea originates in Fujian, China where once upon a time, producers lit pine wood fires under their tea leaves to speed up the more traditional drying process, but then discovered that the burning wood infused the tea with a delicious smoky punch that they decided was an improvement. I’m so glad they stumbled upon this discovery because it continues to brighten up my day hundreds of years later.

The Wuyi Mountains in Fujian, China

Fujian is a coastal province of China that boasts beautiful mountains, which no doubt contributes to the local growing conditions, ideal for both tea (Camellia sinensis – or Chinese camellia) and pine trees, fundamental to Lapsang Souchong.

A smoked flavour goes well in a martini, as demonstrated by the Smokey/Burnt Martini and the Paisley Martini. I have heard people describe Lapsang Souchong as ‘the whisky of tea’ so there are definitely some similarities in these martini variations.

Smoked food also goes really well as a martini accompaniment. Whilst drinking the Fujian Martini, I found myself specifically craving Aspara-Bacon (a grilled snack from Hokkaido consisting of asparagus wrapped in bacon, grilled over a fire) so I might have to put some of those together for the next martini.

Alternatively, it might be better to serve a non-smoked food. Contrast seems to work well during the martini experience. I might recommend something with a little acid sharpness such as a snack involving lemon or vinegar. It goes well with dumplings with a soy-vinegar dipping sauce for example and would make a fantastic mid-afternoon drink to accompany dim sum if you found yourself drinking a martini that early in the day.

How to make a Lapsang Souchong Martini

For this martini, all you need to do is infuse one teabag of Lapsang Souchong (or a tablespoon of loose leaf tea) per 500ml / 18 oz of gin or vodka for 6-24 hours to impart that robust flavour.

A teabag infusing in a jar of gin

It’s a fairly quick process, and if you leave it for too long before removing the tea the drink can become bitter.

The gin/vodka once the tea has infused.

If you want, throw the teabag in a mug and top up with boiling water for an ever-so-slightly ‘spikey’ cup of tea!

A cup of Lapsang Souchong made with the bag after it was used to infuse the gin.

Once it has been infused, put the gin/vodka in the freezer for at least 6 hours and then prepare the drink as you would a classic martini but replacing the gin or vodka with your tea-infused gin or vodka.

If you want a more subtle martini, you could create a classic martini but add a tablespoon or two of the infused gin/vodka to impart a hint of smokey Lapsang, but I personally like the full whack.

Note that the Fujian Martini works well with a lemon garnish but not as much with an olive garnish.

Serve and toast to all those who have contributed to the evolution of tea over the centuries.

干杯!

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