This is my favorite among my loot. All other brands have disappeared from the stores over the past couple months and my friend Terry turned me on to Zabar's brand. This is not the aforementioned hear-a-thousand-Chekov-violas variety, for that is some hideously expensive shit whose purveyor Terry can't remember, but this will totally fucking do. Russian Caravan is a blend and possibly a description of conveyance rather than an actual recipe, and the two other kinds I've tried have Lapsang's smoky-oakiness to them. Zabar's proudly proclaims there is nary a leaf of Lapsang in it, thereby letting the dense floral, herbal, dark-of-winter come on in a rush. The really weird thing about it is that it tastes creamy after it cools a bit, which is a divine attribute.
I am not really well-versed in Russian anything - language, history, food, literature, art (though Terry has predicted that Moscow multi-media artists are the next group to watch) - but the impression I get of "Russia" is that of romantic melancholy, of dense passions stacked like logs on a bonfire burning in the cold night. Likely, this opinion is just as informed by the scene from A Fish Called Wanda where John Cleese sends Jamie Lee Curtis into libidinous tailspin with just a few barked phrases as it is by anything else, but this tea confirms my stereotype. I want to run into the woods with nothing but a wool hat and a need to vanquish Napoleon. I even want to watch Love and Death again, so rhapsodic do I find it. When the Bergman-esque Grim Reaper comes a-knockin', scythe and silence in hand, I will forgo a chess match, mostly because I don't know how to play chess and thereby waste everyone's time and just annoy the Reaper, and will plead for one more sip before plunging to The Void. Happy Holidays!