Friday, February 21, 2014
Andrews & Dunham Damn Fine Tea, Caravan
If even half of the stories are true, let it be a testament to the durability of rock musicians that Carävan lasted as long as they did. With a ticket paid in full by the charms of singer and guitarist Ian Black, Carävan rode the mind-numbing rhythms of Phil Steep (bass) and Gryph “Smoke” Upley (drums) down dark highways for four years. Black’s bizarre and tragic death in 1979 put the brakes on this trio’s wild ride. The surviving band members and their music have since been plagued by personal, legal and (by some accounts) supernatural misfortune to such an extent that the survival of their master recordings is a remarkable feat in itself. What remains today is a body of work that reveals a surprising sweetness, albeit richly draped in the fiery brimstone of Carävan’s legendary hard-rocking sound.
Carävan is a smoky blend of black teas. Steep in boiling water for four minutes — more if you can stand it. It is best enjoyed in an 11-ounce mug.
You have to respect a company that makes up a legendary rock band to explain their tea blend. At least it amused me.
Based on the metal motif and accompanying packaging, I was expecting a fire and brimstone, burn it to the ground, take no prisoners harsh smoky tea. Instead upon opening the bag I get a sweet smoke that hints at cinnamon and vanilla notes. The leaf is broken orange pekoe that ranges from light orange red to quite dark in color.
Using my typical French Press method, I placed my scoop of leaf in the bottom and poured fresh boiling water over it. I steeped 4 minutes with the lid in place. I almost never push the plunger down on the press unless there are leaves hanging on the sides. It wasn't necessary today. The only caution with a press method is to make sure all of the liquid is poured out. This is especially true if you resteep.
The devilish brew is dark and ominous - OK actually it is orangey brown and looks like tea. The scent is Smoke On The Water, sorry I tried to not go for the obvious, I just couldn't resist. The aroma is like pine smoke and slightly bbq. The taste is sweet, and yes smoky, but not overpowering. Late in the sip I actually catch the tea leaf itself. That seems to be a hard feat to pull off in a caravan type blend.
This is definitely one of the better smoky teas I have tried. Get that kettle out and turn it up!
Visit the Andrew & Dunham website.