There is only one way to produce Lapsang Souchong. Souchong leaves, noted for their thick, rough appearance are withered over burning pine bows, placed in barrels covered with cloth and allowed to ferment. A process which has gone virtually unchanged for hundreds of years.
And who came up with the idea? Like many developments in the world of tea there is more than one story.
One story maintains that during the Qing Dynasty an army unit passing through a small village decided to camp in a tea factory. Once they were gone, the workers realized that the only way to get the tea ready for the next day's market was to dry it over a fire. They did exactly that and voila, Lapsang Souchong was born.
The second story describes a situation aboard an English Tea Clipper enroute from China. In this story, waves broke over the deck during a storm and soaked a shipment of Fujian tea. The sailors, recognizing this to be very bad for business decided to dry the tea in large pans set over a campfire. Et voila, Lapsang Souchong was born.