caravan black tea
by stash tea (1 review)
Our Caravan tea is a dark, robust tea with a distinct smoky flavor which is reminiscent of the "Russian Caravan" teas of the past. In 1618, the Chinese ambassador presented several chests of tea as a gift to Czar Alexis. Just 70 years later in 1689, Russia and China signed the Treaty of Nerchinsk to establish a common border so that regular camel caravans could transport hundreds of pounds of tea via Mongolia. The caravans followed one of the longest and most difficult overland routes the world has ever known. The entire trip from China to Russia was 11,000 miles and took 16 months. After the Trans-Siberian Railway was completed in 1905, the trip took only seven weeks and the mighty caravans faded into history. Two grades of tea were transported by the Russian caravans. The first was a very low grade leaf, powdered and then pressed into bricks. The second, referred to as "Russian Caravan Tea" was a very high grade black tea which the Russians carried overland in order to prevent its deterioration from a long ocean voyage. The Russians liked their tea very strong with a deep rich color and robust aftertaste. Stash Tea makes its version of Caravan tea by blending smoky Lapsang Souchong with hardy Keemun, both from China. Lapsang Souchong comes from the Fujian province of China. It is a very distinctive tea with an exotic smoky flavor. After plucking, the leaves are withered over cypress or pine wood fires. After the rolling process, they are placed into wooden barrels until they begin to emit their own pleasant aroma. As a final step they are placed in bamboo baskets and hung on racks over smoky pine fires where they dry and absorb the essence of the smoke. China Keemun has narrow, tightly twisted black leaves that brew a brilliant reddish-brown cup with a light, toasty flavor.
I do not care for the smoky quality of this tea. Not for me