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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dark Teas and Smoky Scents

If you enjoy a tea with more of a smoky or woody flavor, Russian Caravan might be the drink for you.  It first became popular around the 1700s, when black tea from Wuyi Mt. in Fujian Province, China was exported by caravan to the north. The entire trip could take up to six months. When the caravans stopped for the night and built their campfires, the tea, which picks up aromas easily, was repeatedly exposed to the campfire smoke. When the tea arrived, it had a smoky aroma and flavor. Those who tried it enjoyed its earthy and unique qualities. "The smoky tea" became more in demand and this is how Russian Caravan got its name. 

Tea first arrived in Russia in the mid-1600s. The ritual of tea suited the Russian lifestyle because of its warm and hearty brew. Since then, Russians have developed their own traditions. The preferred tea is a strong, dark brew that's sweetened with sugar, honey or jam. Russia even created their own teapot called the Samovar, which was adapted by the Tibetan hot pot. This pot is both a heater and a way to boil water. The first Samovars looked like an English teapot but instead of a tap, had a spout and handle. They were also made out of different types of metal including copper, bronze and silver. Due to the high cost of tea, a Samovar was functional and represented affluence. 

A typical tea is made up of two or three different types or flavors that are mixed together. Each is brewed very dark in separate pots and then combined. Hot water is added to dilute the mixture. When being served, the tea is actually stacked in different pots designed to be stacked. The bottom pot would hold the hot water, then the dark tea, followed by an herbal tea on top. Stacking the pots not only saved room, but kept each pot warm. 

Whether you prefer to drink it Russian-style or simply enjoy the namesake, enjoy. 

Thanks to Dan Robertson and for this information. 

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