Click on the image above to visit the Hot Tea Month Blog-a-thon site hosted by Scrabblequeen! Check out the weekly prompt and join in.
Week 1: “Tea as a mood lifter: How does tea improve your day? What is your favorite time for a nice, hot cuppa?”
My tea drinking experience started early in my Russian culture upbringing. Tea was always requested when people were tired or needed a lift during the afternoon. Drinking tea takes me back and gives me the sense of the comfort of home…
I don’t ever remember using tea-cups in our Russian gatherings for tea. Typically a glass was used served with a bowl under it. Many of the children and older folk would pour their tea into the bowl and drink it out of the bowl. There were fancier glass holders called podstakahnyik that I’ve posted a couple of pictures of here. Literally translated it means under the glass. Any Russians out there can correct me if I got that wrong. Russia has two national drinks, tea (chai) and vodka.
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-honored 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 fueled 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. Quotes from The Food and Cooking of Russia by Leslie Chamberlain.
This is how I remember drinking tea with my grandparents and relatives growing up.
Tea is “Chai” in russian, (not the now popular Chai drink you find at Starbuck’s). Chai is just plain old steeped tea with boiled water added to your desired strength. In our Russian culture it is an important part of a meal. We usually have it at the end of a meal. Many times we’ll have it in the middle of the day too. It’s has been associated with rest, comfort and refreshment. It’s just common for us to say at the end of the meal, “Chai?” or “Who wants Chai?”
When I have my “Russian” crowd over these are what I serve chai in. I have 12 of them and they are perfect to see the strength you want your tea to be. Some add lemon, some add cream, some have it black. I’ll have to share in a later post the Varenya that my mom and other Russian ladies make to add to tea. It’s a fruit based syrupy liquid to sweeten and flavor your tea instead of sugar.
In my younger days we attended a church where meals were commonly served during holidays, after funerals, and weddings. Part of the meal was the tea service. We had the typical glass and bowls for our tea. Small teapots with the tea steeping and large Tea kettles with boiled water would be put on the tables. There was always a bowl of sugar cubes to sweeten the tea. My cousins and I would build sugar cube bridges across the inside of our tea glass and then watch the hot water melt them down. Fun times :0)
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).
Photobucket is holding all my photos that I stored on their site from 2007-2015 hostage replacing them with ugly grey and black boxes and asking for a large ransom to retrieve them. It is a slow process to go through all my posts deleting the ugly boxes.