How Did Russian Caravan Tea Become So Popular in Europe?
We love our Russian caravan tea, here’s a brief history on how it became so popular
What is Russian caravan tea?
A Russian caravan may sound like a cramped weekend away in the freezing snow, but it is in fact a type of black tea blend that is carefully constructed using several different tea varieties. The name 'Russian caravan' is derived from an old travelling tradition that saw camel led caravans transport mounds of tea across 18th century tea routes from China through to Russia and finally onto Europe. It's thought that these travellers lit camp fires using dried camel dung, which is said to have impacted upon the taste of the tea they subsequently drank, offering a unique smoky flavour. Of course this isn't the process used to achieve such a flavour in the modern day, but the adoration of the distinct smoky taste that a warm mug of Russian caravan tea can offer remains as strong as ever.
Russian caravan tea is a blend which contains a variety of different teas, all of which were once transported through Russia into Europe, including but not limited to lapsang souchong, pu’erh and oolong. It's important to note that Russian caravan tea never includes green, white or yellow tea leaves, using only those which have been fermented, smoked or roasted to achieve a black tinge. Initially this is due to the simple fact that these specific tea blends stayed fresh for much longer, staying strong through long journeys and severe weather conditions.
Why does Russian caravan tea taste so good?
The high quality of Russian caravan tea can be attributed to the sourcing techniques, as brewers seek out their ingredients from experienced tea producing countries that maintain a deep passion for the tea tradition, such as Taiwan, Nepal, India and Sri Lanka. Any 'experimental' teas that are grown in places like Australia and Germany tend to be avoided.
A good cup of Russian caravan tea should have a very recognisable flavour, tasting similar to a light lapsang souchong but with a hint of smokey pine and a little more depth. It's more than possible for the flavour of Russian caravan tea to differ depending on the blend that is used, as some souchong teas lack a smokey taste and offer up a whole different drinking experience, whilst adding in a blend of oolong tea can transform the tea blend, adding more unique and interesting flavours for the drinker to enjoy. If you want to find the most suitable russian caravan tea for your personal preferences, it's a good idea to check out the ingredients beforehand to understand whether your palette will match up with each specific blend.
You can expect to feel a smokey taste if lapsang souchong tea stands strong within the blend, whilst a lack of lapsang souchong will provide a far sweeter, fruitier flavour. If the caravan tea contains a high percentage of oolong tea, you will likely taste a variety of flavours from a subtle hint of flowers to ripe fruit, whilst you can experience an earthy finish from a pu’erh containing blend.
If you would like to know more, please visit our Russian caravan tea page here.
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