Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Some Interesting Facts about Russian Tea

There are some very interesting facts about Russians and their love of this drink. Tea was not introduced into Russia until the seventeenth century. This is late compared to the rest of the world.

The process of making it is quite different from other cultures. A concentrate (known as zavarka) is prepared in a small pot. Then, each individual pours some of this zavarka into their tea cup.

Here was a fact that I was surprised to discover. It is not uncommon to drink two or three different kinds of tea at one time. Russians mix herbal teas and black or green teas (in the form of zavarka) together, and then dilute this mixture with hot water. Adding hot water allows one to make tea according to taste. Adding sugar, lemon, honey or even spoonfuls of fruit jam are the finishing touches to the tea.

If you have not experienced a traditional Russian ceremony, or tea from a samovar, you are missing out on the essence of tradition, hospitality and comfort to the Russian people. It is an unforgettable experience.

First of all, it is always time for tea. The expression "to have a sit by samovar" means to have leisurely conversation while drinking next to the samovar.

If you have not seen a samovar, please take the time to investigate this beautiful piece of functional artistic equipment. This is a heated metal container, many have an attachment on the tops of their lids to hold and heat a teapot filled with tea concentrate or zavarka.

The traditional recipe uses black tea that became known as Russian Caravan tea. This was a black tea that was transported from China to Russia. The trip took 18 months by camel caravan. During the trip, the tea acquired a smoky flavor from the caravan campfires.

Today the black or green tea is used, and may be mixed Keemun tea (also known as Chinese tea sweetness). Keemun is generally a fruity tea, but can be bitter and have a smoky flavor after fermentation.

The layering of teas occurs in the Russian tea pots. There are three layers. Of course, as we have already established the bottom and largest teapot holds hot water for diluting the tea. The middle tea pot contains the tea concentrate. The smallest tea pot on the top usually has an herbal tea in it, of course.

There is a whimsical beauty to the composition of the complete teapots structure. It reminds me a lot of the Russian Orthodox Church pattern of onion-heads roof. If you have an opportunity to see some of these beautifully made tea pots, they will sure put a smile on your face. Many are decorated with scenes and figurines of people and animal of everyday life.

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