Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Russian Tea Tradition

Tea became available in Russia in the 17th century, brought by the caravans of traders on camels who would make the cross-continent journey from China. This journey took almost an entire year to complete, resulting in tea being quite expensive and only available to the aristocratic class for many years. Everything changed in 1880 when the Siberian Railroad was opened, and the trip could now be done in just two short months. Tea became widely available, and was embraced by all social classes.

Around this same time, the samovar was introduced in Russia, and became the centerpiece of any Russian household, rich or poor. The samovar was a large decorative urn made from copper or silver, that could hold a large quantity of water. An inside chamber was heated with coals and kept the water hot and bubbling all day long, so that tea could be prepared on a moment’s notice. On top of the samovar, a small teapot rested and was kept warm, containing a very strongly brewed concentrate of tea called tscheinik.

When there was a keen urge for a cup of tea, it could immediately be prepared to the liking of the recipient by pouring out a small amount of the tscheinik, and then diluting it with hot water from a spigot on the samovar. This invention is of Chinese origin and soon came to be recognized as the symbol of Russian hospitality. If unexpected guests were to arrive in a Russian home, they could count on being served tea quickly thereafter. Even in the great expanse of Russian literature, from Tolstoy to Dostoyevsky, the samovar is consistently mentioned in scenes taking place in the Russian home, as a symbol of Russian hospitality and company.

Russian tastes in tea are quite unique compared to other countries. The concentrated tea found in the samovar’s teapot can be green, but is more often black tea from India or Sri Lanka. Russians will often use a blend of teas which has been smoked to varying degrees [Try Tea Total Lapsang Souchong]. Some believe this to be a taste that developed due to the Russian climate or local gastronomy, while others have the more romantic notion that this smoked tea is a reminder of the old caravan tea, which would become slightly smoked simply by the repeated exposure to campfires along the route. In fact, many tea companies have created smokey blends which are often called “Russian Caravan Tea.” [Try Tea Total Smokey Russian Caravan Blend] The preference for smokey tea would seem an odd combination with sweets, but the traditional way of drinking tea in Russia is to sip the tea through a sugar cube in the mouth, or by stirring a spoon of homemade jam into the cup before drinking. However it is prepared by the individual, tea can be found in any household and is enjoyed throughout the day.

Source: http://www.itoen.com/cultural-tea-traditions

Sunday, March 1, 2015


Tea in India only gained popularity as a national beverage in the 19th century after the British began creating large scale tea plantations in order to ensure adequate supplies for their country’s growing thirst. As a result India now is one of the world’s largest suppliers of tea, and yet because of this very recent history relative to the nations of the Far East, tea has not had time to appropriate any elaborate tea rituals as in Japan or China.

In India, tea is more a part of everyday life at home, work, on the streets and while traveling.

Cha-ya is the preferred style of tea sold and consumed on the streets, in train stations and in eateries. Cha-ya is traditionally a strong black tea, spiced with cardamom, fennel, cloves or other spices which is then sweetened with sugar and mixed with milk for a sweet and creamy beverage that many Westerners and Europeans would know as Chai tea.

Although it can be drunk alone, Cha-ya is often enjoyed with a savoury snack like samoosas. Usually street vendors or train stations will sell this tea in small clay cups that are only used once, and then smashed after use.
Cha-ya in clay cups -

Whether enjoyed on the street or at home, Cha-ya provides respite from the heat or weariness from travel or work.

You can bring this Indian Tea Tradition into your home by making Cha-ya using tried and tested recipes or you could just go to Tea Total and get some TEA TOTAL Nepal Masala Chai tea to enjoy.

Whatever you choose, we hope you have your tea just the way you like it.

For more Chai and other great tasting teas, visit Tea Total and take your pick.

Source: http://www.itoen.com/cultural-tea-traditions