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Recent Tasting Notes
This tea takes well to a second infusion. You will need to full boil and steep for a long time but I was able to pull out some woody sweetness.
It’s a delicate tea especially after the cinders of Lapsang Shouchong burn through the first cup brewed.
Still experimenting with oversteeping as I like this tea too strong, as if I mixed only a touch of fresh water with some заварка (zavarka,) I’ll report back when I have the proper infuser tools to make it strong enough.
Wow, all right.
Brewed two cups to be sure, this review is on a second infusion with boiling water, long-steeped for 8+ minutes to pull as much essence as I could from the leaves.
Let me preface this by saying this is the first loose leaf tea I have had in a while and also the first blend with Lapsang Souchong (whose aroma I have sought out.) This is also the first loose leaf tea I have purchased for myself.
With that out of the way, this is a fantastic old world tea. The dry fragrance is all woody campfire, it reminds me of a war reenactment with just a hint of gunpowder in the air.
The flavor profile is surprisingly mild. When steeped strongly, as I enjoy, it offers a deep but translucent red color. At first sip you are greeted by the LS smokiness, but that yields to a lovely Irish Breakfast tea. (Assam) Then there’s Keemun (Oolong) to ensure the maltiness of the Assam does not overpower, even when you brew as long as I did.
The finish mixes smoke with malt and just a kiss of sweetness for a smooth and slightly tannic finish that lingers. None of these notes overpower or become bitter, even when steeped for long periods of time. This will come in handy as my original intention with this blend was to share with my lady, who would be turned off by overpowering flavors.It does not need milk or sugar to suit my palate but would probably take well to them if that was your preference, without ruining the already great balance.
Reviews of this tea elsewhere criticize the lack of smokiness that you would usually get with a pure LS tea. The important thing to remember about Russian Caravan is that it was originally supposed to be a dignified black tea with a hint of smokiness, the folk tale is that merchant campfires smoked the original crates of tea bound for St. Petersburg from China. I would personally prefer more smoke in a tea, but that is where Lapsang Souchong in itself shines. I am looking forward to trying it.
I think this tea hits all of the marks, it’s even affordable. For my 8oz bag I only paid $15 which to me is a steal for the quality and consistency offered. I can only dock a few points for the possibility of more depth in the perfect tea.
Planning to keep this blend around as a staple for years to come, especially if I’m camping out or spending time under the moonlight.
Flavors: Campfire, Tannin, Wood