Russian Caravan tea is a blend of oolong, keemun, and lapsang souchong teas. It is known for its sweet, malty, and smoky flavor, which comes from the smoke-dried lapsang souchong tea. However, some varieties exclude lapsang souchong, resulting in a less smoky taste, while others may include assam tea.
The Origins of Russian Caravan Tea
Despite its name, Russian Caravan tea is actually a Chinese tea. The name originated from the camel caravans that carried tea from tea-producing areas in India, Ceylon, and China to Europe via Russia during the 18th century. The journey took at least six months to cover the six-thousand-mile distance from the Chinese border to the populated regions of European Russia, passing through the harsh terrain of Mongolia and Siberia.
Characteristics of Russian Caravan Tea
Russian Caravan tea is believed to gain its distinctive flavor from its journey through the cold and dry climate of Mongolia and Siberia. Anecdotal evidence suggested that the tea took on a smoky taste from the campfires during the caravan journeys, but only the lapsang souchong tea in the blend is smoke-dried.
The blend of yunnan black tea, keemun, and lapsang souchong produces a full-bodied, strong copper-colored tea with a smooth and mellow aftertaste. Some tea connoisseurs believe that the tea gains a unique flavor by absorbing slight moisture when nightly unloaded on the snow-covered steppes, and therefore, the tea commanded a higher price despite the greater expense and difficulty of its carriage by the camel caravan route.
In summary, Russian Caravan tea is a unique blend of tea with a rich history and an interesting flavor profile that has been enjoyed for centuries.