- “How many spoons of sugar do you usually have with your tea?”
- “It depends. Two if I am at home, four if I am a guest.”
It goes without saying that tea is the quintessential Russian drink. Introduced in the 17th century by the Mongolians as a gift to Russian Tsar Michael I, tea soon became a major staple in the Russian culture and formed into individual tradition. As sometimes tea ceremony in Russia can last a few hours, it is considered quite rude in Russia to serve tea “naked”, that is, without any food to accompany it.
Essential components of Russian tea ceremony are russian sweeteners. Depending on individual tastes, people might add sugar, condensed sweet milk, honey or jam. Honey is considered the most delicious addition to tea. Jam and honey are not put into cup or glass with tea but are served separately in a special bowl or vase and then each participant of tea party put portion into personal little plate or bowl and then eats with a tea spoon. And to spread these jams or honey on there are pancakes or crepes, white bread and special rolls on the table.
Besides that, all sorts of treats are served to make the sweetened tea even sweeter. For instance, gingerbread biscuits are one of Russia’s original sweets, made from rye flour mixed with honey and berry juice. Alenka Milk Chocolate may not be the tastiest chocolate in Russia, but is probably the most recognized brand in the Russian chocolate industry. Sushki and baranki are another traditional Russian small, crunchy, mildly sweet bread rings, often dipped in tea to make them softer.
And unlike other cultures where tea drinking is all about the tea, in Russia tea drinking is about everything that comes with it! Great company with friends and family, heart-to-heart talks, freshly brewed, full of aroma, warming tea, and favorite Russian sweets and gourmet are what make Russian tea drinking so special.