Famous for its rich and smoky flavor, Russian Caravan is actually a blend of two different kinds of black teas. This strong tea can be an acquired taste, but for some tea lovers it’s the essence of all things wintery and cozy: woodsmoke, black tea, and a crackling fire.
The history behind Russian Caravan tea
Russian Caravan tea is said to have originated along the trade route from China to Russia in the 1600s and 1700s. Camel caravans traveled to Russia from China to exchange tea and other luxury goods. During the journey, the story goes that tea leaves were exposed, night after night, to the smoke from campfires. At the end of the journey, this process resulted in a rich, smoky black tea with a unique flavor.
Today, Russian Caraven blends are typically made from Lapsang Souchong black tea blended with another black tea, often China Keemun. This tea retains the smoky, toasty notes of the original blend.
What is Russian Caravan tea made of?
Russian Caravan is made by combining roughly equal parts of Lapsang Souchong and a classic black tea like China Keemun. Russian Caravan is typically slightly lighter and mellower than Lapsang, with the smoky notes balanced out by crisp, classic black tea. Depending on the blend, Russian Caravan may also contain small amounts of oolong tea or another classic black tea.
Lapsang originated in the Wuyi Mountains of the Fujian province of China, where it is still produced today. Like all Chinese black teas, Lapsang Souchong is produced from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant. The name “souchong” refers to the fourth and fifth leaves of the tea plant, which are farther removed from the prized flowery pekoe bud at the tip, and are considered somewhat inferior in quality. When smoked and preserved as Lapsang, Souchong, however, these leaves become prized for their unique smoky flavor, and are highly sought-after all over the world.
Although it has its origins in China, Lapsang Souchong became popular in tea rooms across Europe, particularly in countries like Russia and England. Lapsang’s distinctive taste and flavor profile sets it apart from other black teas, and is often compared to other smoky luxury goods like fine cigars and scotch whiskey.
Unlike more robust Indian black teas, which are made from the camellia sinensis var. assamica varietal, Chinese black teas are made from the camellia sinensis var. sinensis varietal. These types of tea plants have been cultivated in China for hundreds of years. They tend to have smaller leaves than indigenous Indian tea plants, and brew up into a lighter, mellower tea with slightly less caffeine.
China Keemun is an excellent example of a Chinese black tea, with a medium body and an astringent bite. This tea brews up into a beautiful reddish amber color. When blended with Lapsang Sochong to make Russian Caravan, the mellow, slightly astringent notes of this tea pair well with the bold smokiness of Lapsang to create a flavorful, balanced blend.
How to blend your own Russian Caravan tea
While we don’t actually sell Russian Caravan tea pre-blended, it’s extremely easy to blend your own! Just mix equal parts China Keemun and Lapsang Souchong loose leaf tea together for a smoky, aromatic tea that’s sure to hit the spot on chilly winter afternoons. You can blend these teas together in large batches, or simply add a little of each to your cup next time you prepare a cup of tea.
How to prepare Russian Caravan tea
To brew a cup of Russian Caravan tea, we recommend using a teapot, tea infuser, or tea filter. These brewing methods give the tea leaves enough room to expand as the tea steeps, resulting in a richer, more flavorful cup. To prepare Russian Caravan, use one level teaspoon of tea leaves for every six ounces of water in your pot or cup. Heat water to boiling, then infuse the tea leaves for three to four minutes. Enjoy this tea on its own, or take it with milk and sweetener if you prefer.
Russian Caravan tea benefits
Russian Caravan is full of the beneficial properties present in black tea. These include:
Helping with focus
Supporting your immune system
A lower-caffeine alternative to coffee
Keeping you hydrated
FAQs about Russian Caravan tea
What does Russian Caravan tea taste like?
Russian Caravan tea has a distinct smoky, slightly sweet flavor. Not quite as smoky as Lapsang Souchong on its own, this tea’s smoky notes are balanced out by the earthy, slightly astringent flavors of classic black tea.
Is Russian Caravan tea good with milk?
In our opinion, there’s nothing cozier than a cup of Russian Caravan tea on a snowy morning with a splash of milk and honey! Milk is a great way to mellow out the stronger, smokier notes of this tea.
Does Russian Caravan tea have caffeine?
Like other black teas, Russian Caravan tends to be high in caffeine, containing about half as much caffeine per cup as coffee.
What’s the difference between Russian Caravan and Lapsang Souchong?
Lapsang Souchong is a smoked tea from China. Russian Caravan is a blend that combines Lapsang Souchong with another black tea, usually China Keemun.