Tea making methods particulate to Russia

Tea with Black Current leaves
Pour four cups of boiling water over 1 teaspoon of dried minced black currant leaves (best picked during the flowering period) together with your usual amount of tea used for a brewing.
Tea with Spices
Pour 2 cups of water over 2 cloves and a piece of fresh ginger root, bring to a boil and simmer for a few minutes. Add your usual amount of tea,brew,strain and serve.
(Iced ) Tea with Egg Yolk
Mix one egg-yolk with 2 tablespoons of good fruit syrup, add 1 cup of cold tea and a few ice cubes. Beat well and serve in a cold glass.
'Mulled Tea'
Pout 4 cups of strong black tea into a stainless steel casserole .Add 1 1/4 cups each of grape and apple juice. Add 1 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 4 cloves and 1-2 teaspoon of freshly grated Ginger and anise seeds. Simmer slowly for 30 minutes. Never let boil. Pour into cups or goblets and add a few walnuts or raisins.
Tea with black peppercorns
When brewing tea, drop 2-3 crushed peppercorns, for each cup, into the boiling water.
This tea is very pleasant after an abundant heavy meal.

The Samovar

The spread of tea drinking in Russia was largely promoted by the introduction of special tea urns, the Samovar. The samovar, adopted from the Tibetan 'hot pot', is a combination bubbling hot water heater and teapot. Placed in the center of the Russian home, it could run all day and serve up to forty cups of tea at a time.
Samovars are a necessary feature of the Russian mode of life and consequently a part
of Russian applied art. It is difficult to say when the first ever samovar was made, but
they became widely spread throughout the country with the introduction of tea and
coffee. Samovars were produced in many towns of Russia, but most famous was Tula, an
old center of metalworking.
The earliest samovars resembled English tea urns or tea vessels. They had already the principal characteristic element - a tube situated inside and a wind box, but a spout
and a carrying handle instead of a tap.
Later, at the end of eighteenth century, samovars began resembling vases and antique urns.
Russian samovars vary in interior construction and exterior decoration and purpose. They were made of different metals - copper, iron, silver, and silver plating on copper, steel, cast iron, and their decoration testifies to different stylistic art trends echoing the general
tendencies in the artistic tastes of different periods.
The samovars became the symbol of Russian hospitality and family comfort as well as the sign of prosperity. Systematically a peculiar ritual of tea-drinking emerged and was adopted in every Russian home. In compliance with it, the hostess or her elder daughter poured the tea.
Some families held two samovars, one, more plain, for everyday use, and a dearer one - for receptions and festivities. There were homes with separate samovar-rooms whose
interior was crowned by the samovar.
Ideed a household without a samovar was just something unimaginable!
Alexander Pushkin, the great Russian poet wrote these verse in 'Eugene Onegin'.

Day faded, on the table glowing
The samovar of evening boiled,
And warmed the Chinese teapot, flowing
Beneath it, vapor wreathed and coiled.

Already Olga's hand was gripping
The urn of perfumed tea, and tipping
Into the cups its darking stream-
Meanwhile a hall boy handed cream.

Time has gone by fast; the pace of our busy present day life has altered the choice of dishes and reduced time allotted for a meal. Teabags and instant coffee are the signs of these changes.
Nevertheless, sometimes we are in a great need to relax and reflect! And what can be better for a repose than Russian tea-drinking from a samovar.

Moscow 2 September 2000
Benedikt Morak
Chef/Foodwriter