Interesting tea (茶) facts

Facts about tea in the world

Tea is considered a National Beverage in Russia.
Since 1638, tea has had a rich and varied history in Russia. Due in part to Russia’s cold northern climate, it is today considered the de facto national beverage, one of the most popular beverages in the country, and is closely associated with traditional Russian culture. It was traditionally drunk at afternoon tea, but has since spread as an all day drink, especially at the end of meals served with dessert. An important aspect of the Russian tea culture is the ubiquitous Russian tea brewing device known as a samovar, which has become a symbol of hospitality and comfort.

A brick of tea presented to Crown Prince Nicholas (future Tsar Nicholas II), 1891
Tea in Russia was introduced in 1638, when a Mongolian ruler donated to Tsar Michael I four poods (65–70 kg) of tea. According to Jeremiah Curtin, it was possibly in 1636 that Vassili Starkov was sent as envoy to the Altyn Khan. As a gift to the Tsar, he was given 250 pounds of tea. Starkov at first refused, seeing no use for a load of dead leaves, but the Khan insisted. Thus was tea introduced to Russia. In 1679, Russia concluded a treaty on regular tea supplies from China via camel caravan in exchange for furs. The Chinese ambassador to Moscow made a gift of several chests of tea to Alexis I. However, the difficult trade route made the cost of tea extremely high, so that the beverage became available only to royalty and the very wealthy of Russia. In 1689, the Treaty of Nerchinsk was signed that formalized Russia’s sovereignty over Siberia, and also marked the creation of the Tea Road that traders used between Russia and China.

Russian Tea time with the Samovar
Russian Tea time with the Samovar

Tea culture in Russia

According to William Pokhlyobkin, tea in Russia was not regarded as a self-dependent beverage; thus, even the affluent classes adorned it with a jam, syrup, cakes, cookies, candies, lemon and other sweets. This is similar to the archaic idiom “чай да сахар” (tea and sugar). The Russian language utilizes some memes pertaining to tea consumption, including “чайку-с?” (roughly “some tea?”), used by the pre-Revolutionary attendants. The others are “гонять чаи” (whip the teas, i.e. drinking the tea running) and “побаловаться чайком” (indulging in tea). Tea was made a significant element of cultural life by the literati of the Karamzinian circle. By the mid-19th century tea had won over the town class, the merchants and the petty bourgeoisie. This is reflected in the dramas of Alexander Ostrovsky. Since Ostrovsky’s time, duration and the amount of consumed tea are appreciated in the tea-drinking. Alexander Pushkin in Eugene Onegin displayed the role of tea in establishing romantic relations:

Of single boredom, right away
They speak–but in a cunning way.
They call him to their samovar–
None but Dunya will pour the tea;
They whisper to her: “Dunya, see!”
And then produce her sweet guitar.
O Christ! She then begins to cheep:
“Come see me in my golden keep!”

An important aspect of the Russian tea culture is the ubiquitous Russian tea brewing device known as a samovar, which has become a symbol of hospitality, and comfort. Enjoy some of the historical images below, of Russian tea time throughout the ages. Source: Igor Kozlovsky’s facebook page.

(Content source: Wiki)

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