Life is certainly sometimes serendipitous. Yesterday I read a review about a Czar Nikolas II tea, looked it up on Amazon.com, and today I received some in the mail, in a tea swap. So, of course, I knew I just had to try it. On one website it is described as Ceylon tea, blended with spices and fruits in the traditional Russian manner. http://www.therussianshop.com/ I think I might add perfume, as the scent reminded me of old expensive perfume bottles you might find in your mother's or grandmother's closet to make her best clothes and furs smell wonderful. I could not identify it, but it was definitely intriguing.
I had read that a 2.5 minute steep was all it needed and I remembered that samovars , while very hot, were not boiling, so that is what I did. Lovely. The brewing tea just smelled very, very fresh, with very little of it's earlier aroma. But the brewed tea tasted wonderful. It is a delicate tea, a medium pale amber that is very floral, with a sharpness and some heavy undertones that to me always says “Russian”. There is perhaps a hint of raspberry and certainly some bergamot and perhaps some other citrus. But the blend is so well done, with such a good base tea, that no one thing stands out. I like my tea to taste first of tea and then to have whatever is blended with it to accompany it, not be overwhelming. This one does a pretty good job, but it is unmistakably Russian, as it should be, given the name. A good afternoon tea, with perhaps, some tea cakes or a blini or two, or more, at least until the pot is done.
This is also not an expensive tea. I googled this and other Czar Nikolas II teas and found them to be about $9.00 for a half pound. Kusmi Russian blends are more than double that. I shall have to see if I can compare them side by side, as I do have a tin of Kusmi's flower blend in the cupboard.
Today I came across as SERRV catalog and looked them up on the web at www.serrv.com This is an organization that sells goods from impoverished villages across the third world. I have gotten a number of tea pots, cups and infusers from them that I really like. I learned they are now carrying teas and I intend to purchase some, as they are quite inexpensive. Some are loose and some are bagged. They are fair trade and sometimes organic.