Our Australian Winter Olympians have arrived in Sochi Russia which I find is Russia’s main area for tea production. The vicinity of Sochi holds the world’s northernmost tea plantations. Believe it or not the traditional black tea of Russia includes the type known as Russian Caravan which was originally imported from China via camel caravans. The trip from China to Russia usually took 16 to 18 months and the tea gained its distinctive smoky flavour from the caravan’s campfires. By 1925 the caravans were no longer used for transportation as the tea could be transported faster by train. Nowdays the tea gets the smoky flavour after fermentation or is a keemun or a black or oolong from China with a hint of smoky Lapsang Souchong.
Tea in Russia is not your usual Aussie brew, the tea in Russia is produced using a two step brewing process. The tea concentrate is first prepared in a small teapot or Samovar where a quantity of dry tea enough for several people is brewed. Once the concentrate is prepared each person pours a quantity of this concentrate into their cup. Then they mix hot water making it as strong or as weak as they like. Sugar, lemon, honey or jam can then be added to taste….in the 19th century it was popular to drink your tea while holding a sugar cube between your teeth!