I absolutely love Lapsang Souchong, and am a fan of other smoky black teas like Keemuns – so everything about this blend had my expectations high. They were absolutely met. Russian Caravan is a wonderfully smooth and smoky blend, truly perfect for the morning pick-me-up with a caffeine kick, but no real bitterness.

The smokiness isn’t just the “subtle smokiness” some teas “evoke”, because this blend has actual Lapsang Souchong in it, and by extension actual smoke. The Lapsang’s presence is absolutely clear, but it doesn’t overpower the other flavors. Unlike a straight Lapsang, Russian Caravan still tastes first and foremost like black tea, rather than a campfire.

The distinct aroma and flavor of Lapsang are cut by the mellow and smooth roasty tobacco flavors of a good Keemun, diluting it enough to make this a balanced blend, an achievement considering how the smell of Lapsang so permanently embeds itself into everything it ever comes in contact with.

If you do not like Lapsang Souchong, you probably will not be able to come to terms with this blend – but being such a polarizing, cult-inspiring tea, if you love it, you’ll likely love this. This, like Lapsang, is a tea for people who see “It just tastes like ashes”, “this is way too smoky” or “It tastes like a campfire” in other people’s negative reviews, and salivate because those people just don’t get it.

The roasted, mellow best of a Keemun, with the true smokiness it needs and only a Lapsang can bring, in the endlessly drinkable lightness you get from a blend. I think this is by far my favorite black tea so far, if one counts straight Lapsangs, Pu-erhs etc. as their own categories.

Hello, new morning wake-up tea.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Her Highness Rozen Maiden No.5, Shinku, is my tea-soulmate.

I am a tea nerd. I only brew looseleaf, I keep an instant read thermometer with my stash and never, ever brew a cup without getting the water temperature I want first. I can’t stop buying teas that capture my heart, even if I have more than I could ever finish before they go stale – though I do my best to keep delicate ones sealed until I’m ready to dig in.

I rate things on a different scale than I think most people do. For me, 50 is not a bad grade, 50 is take it or leave it, I probably wouldn’t turn it down but I wouldn’t ask for it. 50 is indifference, sub-50 is dislike.

Also, I live near Lupicia SF, and can get there and back in the span of my lunch break. I’m jealous of myself.

I like just about everything, but my true loves are shincha, gyokuro, pu-erh, and lapsang souchong. Grass clippings, dirt, and campfires, mmm mm.

What I won’t touch is blasphemous grossness like candy-flavored rooibos, fruit-and-vanilla white teas, etc. – don’t even get me started.


SF Bay Area

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