“Moscow citizens drink tea in the morning, at noon and always at four o’clock. Every family has a Samovar. The tea is drunk in the evening, people drink it when they are sad or have nothing else to do, and without any reason. People drink it with milk, lemon, jam, and most importantly – with pleasure”.
This is how historians describe the attitude to Ivan-tea in Russia in the 18th century. The first-time Tea-establishments appeared and had no analogues in any other country of the world – Tea Houses. During the first days, it received special conditions from the government: the lowest taxes, the minimum rent, and the right to start working from 5 O’clock in the morning. In addition, the Tsar supported the original tea traditions.
Russian tea drinking traditions, indeed, have ancient roots, their own special flavour and scale in no way inferior to Chinese or English. The first information about our Russian tea (which had the name of the settlement, where it was first harvested – Koporsky) dates back to the 12th century. The Russian Ivan-tea surpasses any overseas in its healing properties any other tea. At the end of the 19th century, Russian Ivan-tea was so popular in Europe that it was even trafficked illegally. For example, the UK that had owned huge tea plantations in India, bought tens of thousands of poodles of Ivan-tea every year, preferring it to Indian.
The main question – why was it so quickly forgotten?
It’s simple: the popularity of Russian Ivan-tea was so great that it became dangerous for the financial power of the East India Tea Company. It inflated the scandal that the Russians had been mixing white clay into their tea, which undermined their health. Therefore, Europe refused Russian Ivan-tea. Only nowadays, after one century, ancient recipes based on willow-tea began to be revived.
The Russian Tea Tradition Today
What about tea traditions … They are always alive among the people. Everyone has their own – you can drink tea with donuts or bagels, with raspberry jam or pies, with honey or dried apples. The merchants, for example, drank tea from saucers – by the way, the Russian tradition, and in Siberia in particular is to drink tea with a piece of crushed sugar. Moreover, the samovar is a Russian invention, which is appreciated in many parts of the world.
However, the main feature of Russian tea drinking is a special sincerity, power of live communication, hospitality, coziness and warmth. Let’s take care of our traditions, there is no longer anybody in the world.