Oolong Tea

Russian Caravan Tea – History, Taste, Recipe

I am recently occupied with the love for herbal teas. I find them to be tranquilizing, and every cup of it gives a very serene feel. In the last article I have shared a post on Kenyan Purple Tea, and since everyone liked it so much, here I am with yet another try. In this article, I’ll share Russian Caravan Tea – Its history, the taste, caffeine content, how you can prepare, and everything else.

Russian Caravan tea is described as an aromatic tea with a sweet malty taste. For tea lovers or people who want to lose some weight, it is a great tea option.

Russian Caravan Tea is a combination of Keemun, Oolong, and Lapsang Souchong teas derived from the Chinese tea plant Camellia sinensis. You may already know that Chinese tea is an excellent option and is very high in demand.

Russian Caravan Tea was discovered in the 1600s; such time camel caravans were used for transporting tea from China to Russia, resulting in the tea named after the transporting process. Even though the tea tastes while drinking it is like charcoal, campfire, and chocolate, those who love it don’t care. They will say it is delicious on an exponential level. 

The Russian caravan tea was an unintended discovery, unlike the English breakfast tea and the Earl Grey teas, which were an outcome of intent. There were witnesses to several tragic incidents that should have done the tea evil, but then they extolled the positive virtues.

Every Russian Caravan tea is unique, just like all other blends. Each blend will have a unique taste, and it is okay to brew it with different types of tea, such as black, oolong, and pu’erhs. Let’s do a deep-dive and see the Russian Caravan Tea in detail.

What is Russian Caravan tea?

Russian Caravan is made after blending various types of tea, i.e., Oolong, Keemun, and Lapsang Souchong tea, all tea from the Chinese tea plant Camellia sinensis. The tea has a vibrant history dating way back to the 1600s when there was the Sino-Russian trade. It is during this time that the Imperial china was bartering tea with Tsarist Russia for almost one-mile-long camel caravans carrying tea traveled 10,000 kilometers across Siberia to honor the trade. 

As the Caravans traveled to deliver the tea, they spent the nights along the freezing snow-covered roads around campfires. It acquired some woody smoke because they kept the tea close to the fire, and after each day it turned smoky. It had a definite smoky flavor by the time the tea went into Russia, and this, though was unwanted, might have added some aroma to it, which I guess the Russians would have liked.

The taste was altered, the smoky tea taste was that of tobacco and firewood, which the Russians equate with comfort as well as warmth. The tea evoked fun memories as lovely as the actual product, like splitting firewood on the winter days.

 The tea’s increasing popularity enabled the transcontinental trade to thrive and gaveled to a new tea class that enthusiasts would have dismissed as being ruined. The Russians unknowingly were sipping through the first unofficial Lapsang Souchong tea. It is a type of black tea that was made after smoking tea leaves over a pinewood fire. The first Lapsang Souchong tea was produced several years later by tea farmers from China’s Qing Dynasty – the production of this tea was accidental too.

People used to dry up the fresh tea leaves over smoked pinewood to process the tea faster. After smoking, the tea was dark-looking tea with a smoky taste to offer. The tea-loving westerners enjoyed the smoky flavor after it was introduced to the foreign market, and it created its demand amongst the traders.

Russian Caravan Tea

With passing time, Russian Caravan Tea has found its popularity, and people love to drink and talk about its health benefits. Besides the smoky Lapsang Souchong, for woody roundness, some people instead were quick to use Keemun black tea to attain a rich body and smoothness, and Yunnan black tea or oolong tea. The good smoky taste of Russian Caravan tea has remained the highlight.

What blend is used to make Russian Caravan Tea?

Russian Caravan tea has historically been made from Chinese black and oolong tea. Lapsang Souchong is the most popular tea but not always present for the blend. Lapsang Souchong is a rare black Chinese tea with a distinctly smokey taste. There is a misconception; however, not all Lapsang Souchong teas are smoked over the pine woods. Not all are smoked at all, but some were smoked over other woods, or even not smoked but blended using artificial flavors.

The original Russian Caravan tea producers used Chinese teas to blend. However, today, combinations may include other types such as Assam, Nepalese, Darjeeling, or Ceylon tea. Oolongs included in the blend are usually Fujian ball-shaped oolong teas with Formosa oolong or greener. When you wish to blend the Russian Caravan tea, there are various tea you can use, such as Wu Yi rock tea or any other darker oolong.

When blending Russian Caravan tea, it is essential to note that it’s appropriate to use artificial flavors or flavors from fruits, herbs, or spices. True pure Camellia sinensis teas should be the only ingredients, at least two or more distinct forms can also be used.

What is the caffeine content in Russian Caravan Tea?

Caffeine content depends mostly on the blend used and is typically low to strong for Russian Caravan blends. In a cup, there are 20 and 60 mg of caffeine. Still, the amount of caffeine will depend on tea you have used to blend with the Russian Caravan tea.

Some of the tea used in blending differs in the amount of caffeine. Full leaf Darjeeling tea can offer more caffeine than whole leaf Assam tea, and Assam dust can deliver three times more caffeine than full leaf Assam tea. The amount of time you steep the tea also determines the amount of caffeine you will extract from the lea leaves as the more time you steep, the higher amount of caffeine you will extract. 

The water used also can influence the caffeine content as hotter the water used; the more caffeine from the tea leaves can be extracted out. If you don’t like caffeine or wish to reduce the amount of caffeine you are consuming but would like to try Russian Caravan tea, I would suggest you try blending it with Decaf. 

How to Brew Russian Caravan Tea

Russian Caravan is easy to brew, and if you have brewed green tea, the steps are almost similar. If you have smokey Lapsang Souchong in your mix, it may be best to stop adding milk; otherwise, be sure you will love it. With a drop of milk and a tablespoon of honey, less smokey and sweeter blends like the Sweet Russian Caravan go well. 

Russian Caravan Tea
  • Boil a cup of water 
  • A good practice is to preheat your cup/teapot with hot water. 
  • Put one teaspoon of tea (2-3 grams) leaves in one cup of water. 
  • Add the boiling water and cover your cup/teapot with a lid.
  • Let it steep for at least 2-5 minutes in the vessel. 
  • Strain the mixture and add sugar or even milk as per your taste.

Always use fresh spring water to get the best flavor from any tea. Strong tap water would probably ruin the taste and will cover all delicate notes. The distilled water, on the other hand, can give a smooth, uninteresting brew.

Russian Caravan Tea vs. Russian Earl Grey

The Russian Caravan Tea influenced the practice of introducing a slice of lemon to the tea to lighten the color, and with this practice, the Russian Earl Grey was born. You can brew the Russian Earl Grey easily if you add naturally dried Thai Lemongrass to the well-traveled tea. Also, the use of sun-ripened dried orange peel will produce smooth, sweet, as well as a refreshing taste.

How does Russian Caravan taste?

The taste is primarily dictated by the blend used, however, typical Russian Caravan can taste maltier and sweeter than pure Lapsang Souchong. The flavor will, however, rely on all the tea in the bend. Some Lapsang Souchong teas, for example, have absolutely no smoky aftertaste. Many Russian Caravan teas include oolong tea, which will add to your cup another layer of notes. Others can have a more definite smokey note but never as strong as the Lapsang Souchong.

Final Thoughts

Russian Caravan Tea is an aged drink that has lasted for centuries, and still today, people love it. Tea is beneficial for the body, especially for those trying to take down bodyweight without the hassle of working out. The market today provides a wide range of blends consisting of spices, teas, vegetables, and fruits of many varieties and origins. 

You should know the flavor profile you need when selecting a tea blend. Single-origin teas can vary in consistency from harvest to harvest, but blended teas are consistent. I’l leave this post here, let me know if you tried and enjoyed it.

Take good care of everyone around you 🙂

About the author

Osama

My name is Osama, and I'm a self proclaimed coffee connoisseur :)

This website is all about my love for coffee and tea and the experiences I had enjoying it in different forms.

I hope you’ll enjoy my content at least as much as I enjoy writing them for you.

Keep sharing happiness and smile whenever you can :)

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