It is around 1900, and a way of life that has endured, indeed thrived over the last several hundred years is about to end.
An epic journey of camel caravans carrying their precious cargo of Tea over land from China to Russia, taking months, even years at a time, is about to be taken over by the much faster trans Siberian railway.
The Legacy of Russian Caravan Tea is Born
That cargo of tea was precious, far to valuable to be left away from the eager watching eyes of its keepers, so it was brought close to the camp fire, night after night, on that long and incredible journey. There, something mavelous happened, smoke from the fires unknowingly was adding its unique flavour to that precious black china tea, developing it unobtrusively into something more interesting – the legacy of Russian Caravan tea was born. At this point, I do feel compelled to share that fact that it may also have been the method of drying the tea over pine wood ovens in China that also aided this flavour, but I confess, I prefer the camp fire story!
What I adore about the tea is that the legacy of that epic journey will forever endure in its name
Russian Caravan Tea is often made up today of a blend of oolong and Keemun, with a little Lapsang Souchong added to mimic that smoky legacy. The cost of transporting the Tea inevitably made it expensive in Russia, and in my mind’s eye, I imagine it to be drunk from sophisticated and very desirable china like this beautiful gold on black pattern tea cup.
Life is precious, time is fleeting, and although sometimes we may think things will go on forever, we are in fact surrounded by the constant flux of change. The name given to Russian Caravan Tea is a wonderful, enduring legacy of that incredible journey undertaken by the Camel Caravans from China to Russia, now gone but forever remembered – the legacy that is Russian caravan tea.