Tea in a Russian Glass Holder

Photo by zzmeika / CC BY

Camel Caravan circa 1900

Photo by The Powerhouse Museum

Russian Caravan is one of the most traditional and well-known black tea in Russia. [1] However, Russian Caravan was not quite originated from Russia. It originated and was named after the trading route between China and Russia called "Camel Caravan."

 

TASTE 

It is well-rounded with a full, smooth, ever-so-slightly smoky flavor. Russian Caravan is a blend of Chinese teas: oolong, keemun, and lapsang souchong. In the old time, this tea was only transported through the trading route, “Camel Caravan,” which took at least half of a year to deliver. While the tea stays on the route for so long, it acquired a distinctive smoky flavor from the caravan's campfires. 

HISTORY


Tea was firstly introduced to Russia in 1638 by a Mongolian ruler. [2] In 1679, Russia concluded a treaty on regular tea supplies from China via the 10,000 kilometers long trading route, Camel Caravan. (**Locations of regions were different in the 17th century, see Map on the left side) Due to the harsh climate of Mongolia and Siberia region, traveling time varies between at least half a year to at most 14 months. [3]

Because of the long travel distance, travelers needed to camp outdoor with campfires. The smoky campfires eventually alter the flavor of tea along the way to Russia. 


Today, Russian Caravan can be easily found and purchased through tea retails such as Peet's Coffee and Tea or Twinings.  

 

PREPARATION

 

  1. For each cup of Russian Caravan, add 1 teaspoon of tea loose leaf. (Follow direction of your tea if included on package)

  2. Boil hot water and let it sit until temperature lowers to approximate 95 degree C. (200F)

  3. Steep tea for 3-5 minutes with hot water. (approx 200 degree F or 95 degree C) [4]

  4. If desire a stronger tea, steep for an extra 1-3 minutes. *Note that most black tea intends to get bitter if steeping for too long. [5]

  5. Enjoy with jam, lemon, and sweets! 

Map of Regions, 17th century CE 

Light Purple: Russia (long horizontal area)

Bright Yellow: Chinese (right side)

Photo by University of Duisburg-Essen

Tea has integrated into different cultures around the world for over 1,500 years. Today tea is by far the 2nd most consumed beverage in the world. (1st is water) It almost became a trend to see newly opened tea shops around the corner everywhere.

Shinno (Shennong)

Photo by nagualdesign

The most common legend is that Shen Nong (literally means "Divine Farmer"), also known as inventor of agriculture and Chinese medicine, discovered tea by accident in 2737 BC. [1] One day when he was enjoying his water that was just boil. (He believed boiled water is safer to drink and also increase longevity) Suddenly, the leaves of a tea plant fell into his cup. He tried it and liked the resulting beverage so much that tea was born. [2]

Tea drinking was likely to begin during the Shang Dynasty (1600 BC–1046 BC) in Yunnan, China for medicinal purposes. The first recorded drinking of tea was dated back to the 10th century BC China. The first tea monograph was written by a Chinese writer, Lu Yu, during the Tang dynasty around 760 CE. The book was called The Classic of Tea ("Chajing" in Chinese) and it introduces tea drinking in ten chapters. [3]

 

Tea was first introduced to Portuguese priests and merchants in China during the 16th century CE. Catherine of Braganza (a Portuguese princess), wife of King Charles II of England, took the tea habit to Great Britain around 1660, but tea was not widely consumed in Britain until the 18th century. In the beginning, tea was a luxury item only for special occasions, such as religious festivals, wakes, and domestic work gatherings such as quiltings.

 

In Britain and Ireland, tea had become an everyday beverage for all levels of society by the late 19th century when Indian tea began to arrive Europe in large quantities.

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