Kombucha, Continued

Because a friend’s son works for a great tea company, we get all the Choice Organic tea we like, we just pay for shipping.  We love Choice teas.  We love our friends even more.

I asked for Russian Caravan tea because it sounded cool and exotic.  I think it tastes like smoked camel dung. But I had a lot of it.  So I made kombucha with it.

More about the history and current standing of Russian Caravan Tea here. Wikipedia has a ‘stub’ about it as well.

Choice Russian Caravan Tea is made of Yunnan tea combined with smoked Lapsang Souchong.

“Lapsang Souchong, which is available for us now (under the trade marks of Twinings, Newby and Master Team), is rather heavily smoked. For want of habit, one can easily catch notes of turpentine, ski grease, and smoked fish. More sophisticated people find notes of fire smoke and prunes. In short — it is a matter of taste and habits.

By the way, cigarette smokers usually like Lapsang Souchong. It also has a ‘mega version’ — Tarry Lapsang Souchong. This one is smoked so much that when brewed it makes an ash-grey froth. Naturally, any variant of this tea is drunk without sugar — unless you are a lover of sweet turpentine.”
(from this article on this delightful Russian website (in English) about tea. I love their writing).

I am not a lover of the notes of turpentine, or ski grease, and I like to chew my smoked fish rather than have it in my tea.   And apparently I am just not sophisticated enough to detect the prune flavor, although the smoked (or cold ashes) flavor is pronounced.   For me, that flavor was somewhat reduced by the Kombucha process, but regrettably, not eliminated.

According to this site, “Strongly smokey teas such as Lapsang Souchong – while they won’t technically damage the Kombucha, the flavor is considered a poor match by most brewers.”

I agree with that. 

However, I made a gallon of it, and then gave it to the Equuschick. her family loves it, and they love Russian Caravan tea as well.  There was a Fourth of July get together at their house and the EC brought out my Russian Caravan Tea for sampling.  I think it was mainly the moms interested in kombucha making who tried it.  In fact, everybody but me loved it.

I had a working batch at home made from a base of Darjeeling and Masala Chai, so I brought that over for sampling.  People liked it as well, but were surprised I liked it, but not the other. It seems most of them didn’t really differentiate the strong differences between the two teas, confirming my longstanding and snobbish belief that the typical American tea drinker is fine with the sweepings of tea leaf bits off the tea-room floor.

My current Kombucha blend is a combination of White Peony, Darjeeling, and Rooibos Chai.   I have two gallons going.I also have a batch of finished Kombucha made from Darjeeling and Masala Chai further steeping on the counter. I added ginger and cranberries to the finished kombucha and put it in jars with lids to ferment another day or two to add extra fizz.  What I’m told works best is flip top bottles.

bottle with lidI don’t have any, although I am kicking myself because there were about half a dozen of them at the Rattery when we inherited it. We sold them at an auction or something. I mostly use canning jars with lids, but I had a brainstorm I think will work well.  I have one of those glass jars for salad dressing
with a plastic lid with a flip top- they used to come with the salad dressing.

I don’t think it’s as good as the special bottles made for beverages (linked above), but it’s better than the mason jars.



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