Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Damn Fine Tea
You might think that it’s hard for a classic tea to keep its fans wide awake and screaming for more, year after year, tour after tour. Maybe you wonder if a blend ever grows weary of trashing countertops the world over? Perhaps you think that following an exhausting after-dinner encore in Sioux City, this tea is not prepared to demolish breakfast in Wichita the next morning?
We’re proud to welcome Carävan back into our lineup. It’s long been one of our favorite, hard-rocking teas, and now it’s bigger, bolder, and better than ever. Hold on to your biscuits and let this custom blend of strong, smoky black tea from China rock you — you won’t regret it!
Learn more about this tea here.
The first time I tried this Caravan Black Tea Blend, I tried the original batch (not the Ressurrected version!) from Andrews & Dunham’s Damn Fine Tea third series. I didn’t review it back then, because I was more than just a little put off by the smokiness of the tea. Back then … I didn’t know how to brew a smoky tea. I have since learned a few things on how to best brew a smoky tea for my taste buds, which tend to be a little put off by a really strong smoky presence.
I know I’ve mentioned the “secret” more than once on this blog, but for those that may have missed it, the secret to brewing a very smoky tea (like a Lapsang Souchong or a blend with Lapsang Souchong leaves in it – like this blend) is to do a quick “rinse” of the leaves. Pour the hot water over the leaves, allow the leaves to steep for 15 seconds, and then strain off the liquid and discard it. Then resteep the leaves for 2 1/2 – 3 minutes. This process will produce a tea that is still smoky, but not so smoky that it tastes as though you’re drinking tea from a dirty ashtray.
Because … I like some smokiness to a tea … I just don’t really care for the full-boar, robust smokiness of a tea like this one has when the above brewing method has not been employed. Some smoke = compelling. Too much smoke = NO.
But now that I’ve brewed this tea to cater to my taste buds, I’m really enjoying it. It’s still smoky, sure, but, I can taste other flavors in this tea now that the smoke isn’t overpowering the cup. The smoke is still the strongest note to the cup, but there are other delightful tastes to be discovered.
It is sweet and caramel-y. There are deep fruity notes that meld deliciously with the burnt-sugar caramel. There is some drying astringency toward the tail, but it’s what I’d categorize as moderate. Overall, this is a very enjoyable cuppa, and certainly worth the little bit of extra effort it takes to rinse the leaves!