Tea was introduced to Russia in the early 1600’s when the Chinese embassy visited Moscow, bringing a chest of tea as a gift for the Czar. But it was not until the 1800’s that tea became widely available to everyone and became imbedded into the everyday life and culture of Russia. Tea and hospitality became closely connected in Russia. It is considered polite to offer guests a warm and welcoming cup whenever they visit your home.
Perhaps the most famous Russian tea tradition is the samovar – a large, ornate metal urn. The main chamber of the samovar is used to boil water and keep it heated to proper tea-brewing temperatures. Once the water in this main compartment boils, some of it is poured into a smaller attached teapot compartment filled with loose tea leaves. This makes zavarka, a strong tea concentrate. A small amount of this strong tea it poured and each tea drinker chooses how much to dilute the tea to suit their own preferences. Russians tend towards strong, black, smoky and sweet brews, sometimes accompanied by lemon or orange slices, or other herbs.
The Russian Caravan is a famed tea blend, and is what inspired Westholme’s Cowichan Caravan blend. This tea brings a touch of lavender together with rich smoky teas from China, as they would have existed during the time of the transcontinental caravans that brought tea from Asia to Russia. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the smoked flavour of the teas came from the campfires during the half-year-long trade journey.

Recently, Westholme added China Caravan to our collection of Teas of the World. This tea is a reincarnation of 18th century black tea believed to be the closest representation to the teas that Chinese tea makers would have blended to meet the growing demands for black tea. This tea bringing together Keemun and Oolong, to produce a clear and delightfully floral tea, likely how it would have started before the great journey to Russia began. We hope this tea will connect you to a time when great caravans of camels - referred to as ships of the desert - set out with full tea chests towards vast plains.

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