Saturday, January 5, 2008
Tea Around the World - Russia
This beautiful Russian Samovar graces the mantel in the tea room and frequently elicits a 'what is it?' inquiry. A birthday gift from my mother many years ago, it has held a place of honor in the tea room. It is said that a well polished Samovar is a sign of hospitality and represents the good manners of the host. Looks like it's time to polish it again. Although I haven't used it recently, it is an impressive way to serve tea at a party! The Russian Samovar is used to heat water to prepare tea. The large urn holds hot water while the tea pot sitting atop the Samovar contains a very concentrated tea so that you may dilute your tea to the strength you desire. There is a cylinder that goes up the middle of the Samovar which holds charcoal or pine cones as the Russians typically prefer. This is then ignited to heat the water in the urn and also to keep the tea pot warm. Water is released from the urn by the large spigot in the center, and the tea concentrate is poured from the teapot. Charcoal heated Samovars are becoming difficult to find, but you may still be able to find electric Samovars. For additional information, photos and history regarding samovars, visit Wikipedia. If you are preparing a Russian tea, be sure to have a bowl of jelly as typically that is used to sweeten the tea. Another method the Russians employ is to hold a sugar cube between their teeth and drink their cup of hot tea, melting the sugar as they are drinking the tea. This sounds like it might require some practice before trying it for the first time!