There’s no denying the worldwide allure of tea, with its diverse flavors and aromas seeping into cultures far and wide. Yet, when it comes to Russian tea, it’s not just about the drink itself, but the profound culture and tradition enveloping it. Today, we’ll delve into the heart of this tradition with this step-by-step traditional Russian tea recipe. Let’s learn how to make the perfect cup of Russian tea, a soothing beverage that warms the heart and soul.
It’s impossible to fully replicate the traditional Russian tea experience without first mentioning the concentrated tea brew, Zavarka.
What is Zavarka?
Zavarka isn’t just a method, it’s the soul of the Russian tea ceremony. This highly concentrated tea brew is crafted by steeping loose tea leaves in a small amount of boiling water, yielding a potent infusion. Its name, ‘zavarka’, translates to ‘brew’ in English, reflecting its essence. To enjoy, one dilutes a serving of zavarka with hot water in their cup, customizing the strength to personal preference. The balance of zavarka and hot water creates a unique tea experience, allowing each person to craft their perfect cup, symbolizing the hospitality and individual respect inherent in Russian culture.
The Russian Tea Recipe
you’ll need the following ingredients:
- 4 tablespoons of loose black tea (or tea leaves of your choice)
- 1 liter of boiling water
- Freshly sliced lemon
- Sugar or honey, to taste
- Optional: Cloves, mint, or raspberry jam for added flavor
Before diving into the brewing process, let’s ensure we have the necessary equipment. Traditionally, a samovar, a large heated metal container (pictured above) is used in Russia to heat and boil water for tea. However, we can simplify things by using a regular kettle for boiling water and a teapot for brewing.
- A samovar or a regular kettle
- A teapot
An interesting tidbit: In Russia, tea is often served in podstakannik – small glasses held within ornate metal holders. If you’d like to experience Zavarka as authentically as possible, you could consider investing in some of these beautiful, traditional tea-drinking accessories.
- Begin by boiling water in a samovar or a kettle. This will be used to dilute the strong tea concentrate later.
- While your water is heating, put the loose tea leaves into your teapot. If you’re using additional flavorings such as mint or cloves, add them to the teapot with the tea.
- Once the water is boiling, pour a small amount into the teapot, just enough to soak the tea leaves and allow them to swell. This creates the zavarka (concentrated tea brew).
- Let it steep for about 15 minutes. The tea should be very strong.
- To serve, pour a small amount of the zavarka into each cup and then, fill the rest of the cup with hot water from the samovar or kettle. You can adjust the ratio of zavarka to water to make the tea as strong as you would like.
- Add sugar or honey to sweeten your tea and if so desired, a slice of lemon.
- During the winter months it is a traditional to add a spoonful of raspberry jam to the tea. The jam sweetens the tea and gives it a sweet aroma and taste.
And there you have it, a step-by-step guide to making traditional Russian tea.
Tea is a timeless Russian tradition that extends beyond the mere act of drinking tea. It’s about taking a moment to slow down, appreciate the finer things in life, and enjoy a moment tranquility. It’s not just a beverage, it’s a part of their culture and history, a symbol of hospitality and warmth. This simplified Russian tea recipe offers a taste of that tradition right in your kitchen. Enjoy this warm, soothing beverage, and let the flavor take you on a journey to the heart of Russia.
Want to learn about Russian tea brands? Check out our article.