For hundreds of years, tea has been one of the most popular drinks in Russia.
“When I am thirsty, I drink tea. When I am freezing, I drink tea. When I am sick, I drink tea. When I am bored, I drink tea,” Russian people say.
Russia even has its own style of making and drinking tea that is as different from Western as English high tea differs from a Japanese tea ceremony.
I am going to show you how my family and I prepare Russian tea, but first I will address some misconceptions about the process.
First, ‘Russian tea” is not a particular kind of tea. You can brew any black, red, yellow or green tea in the Russian style. Traditionally, Russian people favoured a black unflavoured tea grown in India or Sri-Lanka but now teas from any country might be used.
Second, Russian tea is never served in bags.
Third, you do not need a samovar to make it. Any small teapot made of porcelain or glass and any kettle to boil water will be good for this purpose.
To make my tea, I took a package of loose black tea and a teapot that holds one and a half cups (300 ml) of water.
The first step in brewing Russian tea is to make zavarka (a very strong tea, from the Russian word “to brew”)
For a small teapot like mine, put about four teaspoons of the loose tea into it.
The amount of tea might vary depending on how concentrated a zavarka you want to make.
Boil the water, pour it into the teapot, and let this steep for at least five minutes. After that time, the zavarka becomes dark red in colour. If the Zavarka becomes opaque and brown is too concentrated but it still can be used.
To show you the next step in making tea, I will take a glass. Nowadays, Russian people drink tea from glasses very seldom but in the glass, you can see the whole process clearly.
Fill the glass about 1/5th full of zavarka. This might vary: If you like stronger tea, use more zavarka.
Fill in the glass with hot water.
Your tea is now ready to drink. Enjoy!