Samovar, varenye and Russian caravan are just some of the terms related to the unique Russian tea culture. For tea lovers, Russian tea tradition has a unique charm. It’s sweet and bold, and unlike any other tea tradition in the world. Interested to know more about Russian tea culture and Russian grown teas? Keep reading.
Russia is the country of extraordinary tea and tea culture. Although the most popular types of “Russian” tea come from China or India, Russia is producing its own tea too. In fact, it’s one of the rare countries that’s making all tea types except dark–including white, yellow, green, oolong and black. But, as the climate in the bigger part of Russia is not suitable for growing tea, tea production is mostly limited to small areas in Krasnodar and Sochi. The most common one is by far black tea. This is one of very rare countries producing yellow tea – a special type mostly unavilable outside China.
Tea culture in Russia
Even though tea production is somewhat limited, it still has one of the strongest tea cultures in the world that started more than 400 years ago. Cold climate, location, and the proximity to tea producing countries made it possible for tea to become an integral part of Russian culture earlier than in other European countries. For example, the English afternoon tea tradition was first introduced only a bit less than 200 years ago. As with any other tea treadition, tea has always had a much higher importance than to just offer comfort and warmth. It’s also an opportunity to talk, share closeness and socialise.
The most unusual and unique piece of Russian tea equipment is samovar. Traditionally, it was used to heat the water. Once ready, water was poured from samovar into a teapot with loose leaf tea. Old samovars were using coal that could also influence the final flavor of tea. Today, electric ones are much more common and tea bags are not an exception either.
You should never drink Russian tea pure, but always will sugar, lemon or jam. Adding jam to tea is a unique tradition untypical for other tea cultures where the usual condiments are milk, cream, lemon or sugar. Russian jam or varenye is usually made with strawberries or similar fruits and has a very sweet flavor. Sugar is not typically added directly to the cup, but held in the mouth instead. Although the way of brewing and serving tea is different from western tea traditions, one habit is the same. Tea is always served with food – the sweeter the better. Russian tea is drank from special glass mugs, porcelain cups or even tea saucers.
Popular tea types and flavor profile of Russian tea
Black tea is still the most popular tea type in Russia. Moreover, loose leaf is preferred for a traditional brewing over tea bags. In fact, Russian people already had a strong tea tradition before the tea bags were invented. One of the benefits of using pure loose leaf tea is that it can be blended with other ingredients like herbs or flowers. Lemon is the most commonly used condiment for black tea in Russia and citrusy black tea blends are popular as well. Today, green tea is very common too.
We can’t talk about Russian tea without mentioning Russian Caravan tea. This blend is popular worldwide and usually has a smokey note. Russian Caravan is made with different black tea types, or black and oolong teas. The smokey note is usually attributed to smokey lapsang souchong, a popular Chinese tea traditionally smoked over pine wood. Read more about Russian Caravan tea here.
Most Russian black tea blends will have a smokey, slightly sweet, fruity and citrusy flavor. Russian-grown teas are very unique with fresh, deep and light flavor and floral, caramel and fruity notes. Sometimes, they are flavored with berries, lemon and mint.
What are the health benefits of Russian tea?
Health benefits will depend on the type of tea. For black tea they may include:
- anti oxidative and anti inflammatory properties – it may boost immune system and fight free radicals
- black tea may help reduce the risk of heart diseases, reduce bad cholesterol, reduce blood sugar, regulate blood pressure and help with weight loss goals
- theaflavin in black tea may provide protection against some cancers
- black tea may boost energy because of medium to high caffeine content
Where to buy Russian tea online?
Russian-grown tea is not as widely available online as the Russian tea blends. Theymay include different teas, especially from China. If you want to enjoy your tea the Russian way, choose Russian Caravan, Sweet Russian Caravan or tea blends with lemon. Alternatively, choose pure Keemun tea and blend it with fresh herbs or drink pure with some strawberry jam.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It’s not intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Every person is different and may react to different herbs and teas differently. Never use teas or herbs to treat serious medical conditions on your own. Always seek professional medical advice before choosing home remedies.