The Russian Pouring Teapot ~ Samovar

I came across these very old Paintings of Russians drinking tea (chai) and I wanted to share them. This first photo is from 1889.

I would love to own one of these older Samovars. See the glasses on the bowls. She is pouring the hot water into the glasses with a strong steep of tea. The concentrate of tea is in a small pot that fits on top of the Samovar.

“Of all beverages, tea alone has the proverbial power to relieve toska, the sadness and melancholy which traditionally burden the Russian spirit. The samovar which dispenses it is a time-honoured symbol of Russian hospitality. It stands for the hearth, the warmth of a Russian welcome, the restorative powers of a glass of tea around the stove after hours in sub-zero temperatures. The word means ‘self-boiler’ and the samovar is just that, a portable water heater made traditionally of brass and fuelled with pine cones or charcoal. On top of it rests a teapot containing a powerful infusion. To pour a glass of tea, a little of this concentrate is diluted with boiling water from the urn. This way it is always fresh never stewed.”

 

After serving the tea the guests will pour the tea out of their glasses into their bowls and sip the tea from the bowl. This is how I remember drinking tea with my grandparents and relatives growing up. We had tea glasses and bowls. Here’s another quote from The Food and Cooking of Russia by Leslie Chamberlain.

 

“Sadly, the modern Samovar is a plug-in electrical device distinquished by its mass production shoddiness and the fact that no one wants to buy it. It is perhaps a fitting epitaph on the death of a culture. In the nineteenth century the samovar and the tea glass holder, found in daily use in the lowliest and the richest households, inspired some of the finest secular silverwork ever produced in Russia.” This is one of my Samovars that is an electric one, modern and mostly made for the tourist trade. They are pretty to have around but not the older genuine article. Here are the tea glass holders spoken of in the quote, podstakanik.

 

 

In this painting again they are drinking tea from the bowl. Statistically the Russians are among the world’s top three tea-drinking nations (with Britain and Japan).

Can you see the Teapots on the table that look similar to mine above? I was excited to see this.

 

Now the next photograph is a group of modern Russians getting the samovar ready at my brother’s reception to celebrate his marriage.

 

My nephew Joe, my brother Tim, my husband, my BIL Steve, and my son Daniel. A couple of these guys aren’t Russian by blood but they have embraced part of our culture anyway.

They had to stoke it up outside because it was causing some problems and not wanting to light.

For more posts on the Pouring Teapot hop over to LaTeaDah’s.

Photobucket is holding all my photos from 2007-2015 hostage and they have blacked them all out. I’m slowly working at restoring my posts without their help. Such a tiresome bother!

23 thoughts on “The Russian Pouring Teapot ~ Samovar

  1. Very interesting post! Thanks for sharing the pictures and text. I especially enjoy the picture of the men in your family — all gathered around the samovar — it speaks volumes of your cherished heritage.

    🙂 LaTeaDah

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed your post, Ellen! I love reading about little anecdotes like that!!!

    Yes, I noticed your teapot-look-alike in that picture.

    I would looooove to get a samovar because they seem to have the largest serving capacity for guests. I have seen some electric ones that are German made, but I haven’t taken the plunge to purchase one… still looking, and still thinking. 🙂

  3. What an interesting post. Your samover is beautiful. It was good to hear that it lifted the spirits in the Russians , over her in U.K. it used to be known as the cup that cheers.

  4. I didn’t even know they had electric ones! Interesting picture of the guys getting an old samavor ready for “tradition”.

  5. Such rich history and beautiful samovars. My aunt has several of those from her mother until burglars broke in and stole them. Such a sad loss.

  6. We have a Samovar from a trip to Russia in 1992. It has just been sitting on a corner table collecting dust. Your post has inspired me to clean it up and see how it works. I don’t think it’s ever been used!

  7. I so enjoyed reading more about the samovar having just discovered the significance of it to Russian culture recently. It must have been exciting to see the similar teapot in the painting!

  8. Thanks for the education on the samovar. I have seen them before but did not know much of the history or use. Yours is stunning! I love the brass with black. The colors just pop off there! Thank you for sharing.

  9. Hi again Ellen!
    Great article and pictures of the samovar Did you happen to read my Molokan Parable: “Two Samovars”?

    Best Wishes!

    WJT

  10. Funny, you’ve got a Tula Samovar, too. From 1992. I just got one on a whim, a gift from a friend, and it’s very close to yours, the electric style with the same handle architecture and structure. Different floral patterns, though.

    Nice!

    Jess

  11. Just got a Samovar and fired it up with charcoal for the first time. How wonderfully exciting. Thank you for your very instructive information on the true Russian tea ceremony.

  12. Hi
    I was so heart-warming to see the pictures about tea-drinking tradition in Russia. I am Russian and I remember all these things, using them. Now I would like to get a real Tulsky samovar (I’ve got an electric one) to use it in the garden. But most of all I wish to buy real tea-glass holders like in the picture? Can anyone offer oryour ideas where I can get a samovar and tea-glass holders. Please write to me.
    Many thanks.
    T

    • Hi
      I was so heart-warming to see the pictures about tea-drinking tradition in Russia. I am Russian and I remember all these things, using them. Now I would like to get a real Tulsky samovar (I’ve got an electric one) to use it in the garden. But most of all I wish to buy real tea-glass holders like in the picture? Can anyone offer oryour ideas where I can get a samovar and tea-glass holders. Please write to me (tanya_goldsmiths@yahoo.co.uk)
      Many thanks.
      T

  13. Hola, I am a Panamanian who just found out about this wonderful article: the SAMOVAR. I just got one in an antiques store last Saturday. There is someone, who is plating it with grass in order to enhance its beauty. It is going to look beautiful! Thanks for the illustration about this! Enjoy your traditions! Our roots, regardless the country, are part of our identity. Moreover, learning about others traditions is a beautiful part of life. Congratulation!

    • Hi Itzel,
      Hola to you too! How fun to find a Samovar. I’d love to find an antique one… someday maybe.
      It is good to enjoy other traditions and cultures!!
      ellen b.

  14. Your blog article is very interesting. I love traditions, yours are great.
    I’m looking for a samovar, and am starting on Ebay. I will probably want an electric one, for the convenience, as I don’t really understand what and how the other would work. I do like the Russian ones but am concerned about our voltage and converter issues, too. Can you clear up any of my concerns? Would it be best not to get a foreign one?
    Thanks ahead for your help.
    Marsha

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