Word of the Week (134): SOUCHONG (probability 32944), by David Sutton

SOUCHONG (or SOOCHONG) is a kind of fine black tea: the word is of Chinese origin, from xiao, small and cheng, sort. There are quite a few other words for kinds of tea. The Chinese take their tea-drinking seriously and many of the names for different varieties are quite poetic. Thus we have HYSON, a very fine sort of green tea, from xi chun, flourishing spring, and PEKOE, a scented black tea, from pék-hô, white down. OOLONG (or OULONG) is a variety of black tea with the flavour of green; the name comes from wulong, meaning black dragon.

The Chinese language also gives us CONGO (or CONGOU), from gong, time, and fú, skill, referring to that expended in producing it. LAPSANG is a variety of souchong tea with a smoky flavour. Then we have BOHEA, which is the lowest quality of black tea, or black tea generally, taking its name from the Wyi hills in Fujian province, China. TWANKAY (or TWANKY) is another kind of green tea, taking its name from Tun-Chi in China.

From South African comes ROOIBOS, or red bush tea, which will be familiar to fans of Alexander McCall Smith as the favourite tipple of Mme Ramotswe.

And to finish on a note nearer home, STROUPAN (or STROUPACH) is a Gaelic word that simply means a CUPPA.


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