Russian Tea Ceremony
Tea was brought to Russia in the 15th century by Afanasiy Nikitin, the famous Russian explorer of India. But it took long time before tea became popular among the Russian people who preferred old traditional drinks such as mead which was made of herbs, berries and honey. Only two hundred years later during the reign of Peter the Great the tea ceremony began to develop. Peter the Great was influenced by the western countries and their traditions and he introduced tea to the Russian noble people first but, instead, the fashion to drink tea spread quickly among the common folk. During this time the samovar was invented. One can not imagine the Russian tea ceremony without the samovar. The samovars were made of copper and were used to boil the water with the help of burning charcoal. Water from the samovar had a special flavour because inside the samovar there was a pipe where dry pine cones were put. While the cones were burning, the smoke gave a unique taste to the water. The cones were burning slowly and water remained hot for a long time.
There was a special trick to make the water more pure: at the bottom of the samovar there was a filter and the tap was at the middle of the samovar, so no dirt could get into the cup.
The samovar was also regarded as a piece of art, so usually samovars were painted over with different patterns.
On top of the samovar there was a pot, where tea was brewed, and the steam from the samovar made tea stronger.
The brewed tea was poured into a cup and then hot water from the samovar was added. In order to make tea cool, it was poured in a saucer, a piece of sugar was put into the mouth and tea was drunk by little gulps. But this tradition was not popular among noble people, who used glasses and silver glass-holders to drink tea. But no matter how people were drinking tea, it was always accompanied by pies and cookies with different fillings.
The tea drinking ceremony was very important in old times. The whole family would get together around the table with the samovar in the middle. Everybody was waiting until the head of the family – father - gave the permission to drink tea. The amount of tea that could be consumed in one evening was enormous. One person could drink fifteen cups during a pleasant conversation. Then the tea ceremony was normally followed by a dancing party.