If you ask any habitant of Russia what he drinks most often, the only possible answer will be “tea”. In fact, tea has become real national Russian beverage for last two centuries.
But at the beginning tea wasn’t popular at all and was very expensive. So it was drank only on big events. In general, Moscow nobility bought tea as medicine, because this herb stimulated blood system and “deterred from a wish to sleep” during long services in church.
Another reason of low popularity of tea was very simple, people didn’t know how to make tea.
There are a lot of funny stories about tea, for example, one servant made tea to his master with onion, pepper and parsley. The master was mad about this, but poor servant couldn’t understand the reason and after long brooding he realised that he had forgotten to salt tea. There were cases, when people served boiled tea leaves with vegetable oil.
Tea became, indeed, the beverage of the folk in 19 century, when it was served in all cafes, bars and restaurants.
Tea is always served in couple, little teapot with brewing and samovar with boiling water, that was a pure Russian invention. Sugar was very expensive, that’s why they drank unsweetened tea while holding a piece of loaf sugar in the mouth. True professionals could drink 6-7 cups of tea with one piece of sugar!
Some people liked and still like “to white” tea with cream or milk. Pure tea can be accompanied with lemon slices or various jams. The taste and the smell of tea depends on the way of its making. Russians usually make tea in this way:
Rinse a clean teapot with boiling water and let dry a little. Put tea in, on the basis of 1 ts is for 1 cup. Pour boiling water over, cover with towel and let brew for 5 minutes. Pour tea in cups and dilute with water. And at the end, I want caution you, you can make tea in different ways, but the principal thing is its freshness. There is an Eastern proverb: “Fresh tea is like balsam, and tea, left for a night, is like snake’s poison.”