Far be it from me to set the rules for preparing tea, a beverage that’s probably consumed by more than a billion people around the world each and every day. But I can’t help finding myself a bit disconcerted at the trend toward shaving seconds – or even minutes – off of how long it takes to prepare it. While that sort of thing seems to fit in with what I know about the coffee drinking experience (which is not much), it doesn’t seem quite right for drinking tea, something that many of us perceive as a slower paced, more leisurely kind of experience.

Yorkshire Red Tea Bags (ETS image)

Yorkshire Red Tea Bags (ETS image)

I’ve written about this very same topic a few times before, most recently in this article. Which questioned the need for gadgetry that is supposedly able to turn out a cup of tea in about a minute. Which is useful if you’re on the retailer’s side of the equation and you want to prepare more tea in a short time. But how does it affect the quality of the tea itself, not to mention what for many is the more low-key experience of drinking tea?

Rather than rehash the topic of one-minute tea let’s move on and tackle the even more fast-paced and thrilling subject of 25-second tea. Yes, that’s right. It seems that the optimum amount of time to steep your tea in teabag form is a mere 25 seconds. That’s according to Martin Isark, a “professional food and drink taster,” who recently undertook to study the issue. Whatever his qualifications for doing so might be, the study was interesting enough to catch the attention of the press in that great tea-drinking part of the world that we know as the United Kingdom.

Over the course of two days Isark sampled 400 cups of tea made with teabags from some of the most well-known British tea firms. The manufacturer’s recommendations for steeping times for those teas ranged from 40 seconds to five minutes.

Though he claims that 25 seconds is an optimum time for tea steeping, Isark is not a fan of this type of tea, which he notes is often made “with tiny particles of broken leaves that have lost the wonderful flavour nuances” that we’re likely to find in other teas. Though he claims to be a fan of pricey first-flush Darjeeling tea, he did allow that of the teas that he surveyed Yorkshire Tea got his thumbs up as the best of the bunch.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Jams and preserves are as much a part of the English-style tea time as the teapots are. And the empty jam jars can be fodder for a number of creative projects. Just the way those tea tins and unwanted teapots and teacups could (see my article here). Save some up and then try your hand at one of the creative uses shown below.

The More Obvious Uses

You don’t have to stretch your imagination too far here. Several uses spring to mind immediately.

  • Candle holders – the possibilities are endless, including filling the jar with hot wax and a wick in the middle.
  • Flower vases – the flowers will have to fit the jar sizes, which can vary quite a bit.
  • Storage jar for non-food items – extra buttons, bits of ribbons, small toys, game pieces, coins, paperclips, rubber bands, and any number of other things.
  • Pencil, pen, and brush holders – some people even go so far as to paint the jars.

More Crafty and Whimsical Uses

Let your creative spirit roam free with ribbons, lace, and even little toy figures attached to the jar lids. Some starter ideas:

  • Salt and Pepper shakers – just a few holes in the lids with a nail and hammer will suffice (pepper needs several, and salt often only needs 2 or 3).
  • Pincushions – people seem to be able to make pincushions out of anything, as I pointed out previously about teacups.
  • Paint jars for your kids – make them even more fun by gluing toy figures to the tops.
  • Holiday gifts and decorations – from pumpkin candleholders to cute snowman jars.

One Final Use

Awhile back, I did my own little experiment in creating a flavored tea (one where the tea leaves have things like spices, flowers, and fruits added in). The vessel used for storing this mixture was a very well-cleaned used jam jar. The flavored tea turned out rather well, and that jam jar kept it fairly fresh. (In case you’re wondering, it was half Scottish Breakfast, half Kenilworth Ceylon, a couple of pinches of coriander, and several cardamom seeds split open and the contents added to the tea. It is wonderful served hot with milk and sugar.)

Try you hand at turning some of those jam jars into something cute, useful, whimsical, or whatever suits your skill and imagination.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The versatility of this smoking method is endless. The salmon is spectacular but only one of many recipes that can be created using this tea smoking method. This is one recipe sure to stay in your repertoire.

Tea Smoked Salmon (photo by Janet Sanchez, all rights reserved)

Tea Smoked Salmon (photo by Janet Sanchez, all rights reserved)

1 cup Jasmine rice
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup Lapsang Souchong tea
1 ½ -2 lbs Salmon
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 bundle fresh dill

Smoking device: an Asian bamboo steamer over a foil-lined pan was used, but a smoking device can be made from a variety of different kitchen tools. The basics are; a perforated pan(bamboo steamer, pasta strainer) that can sit on top of the pot, a pot or pan at least 4 inches deep roughly the same diameter as the perforated pan. On a side note of using a pan that is perforated up the side of the pan, tightly wrap the sides with foil and secure in place. A lid to fit the top of the perforated pan is needed as well. Also needed is a piece of foil large enough to completely line the inside of the pot or pan being used.

Smoker directions: Completely line the bottom and sides of the pot with foil. Mix together the rice, sugar and tea. Place the mixture in the bottom of the foil lined pan. Place the perforated vessel on top of the pan. Make sure that it fits so the smoke goes into the fish not outside of the pan. Place a bed of dill onto the perforated pan reserving a few sprigs for the top of the fish. Liberally season both the skin side and top side of the fish with salt and pepper. You many not need to use all of the salt and pepper depending on the surface size of the fish. Place the reserved sprigs of dill on top. Cover the perforated pan with the lid. Place the smoking device over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until smoke is visible. Once smoke is visible reduce heat to medium low or low and look for 15-20 minutes or desired doneness.

This method of tea smoking can be used on any meat as well as vegetables. Simply change out the seasoning to fit whatever protein or vegetable being used.

See more of Janet Sanchez’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Ah, shortbread – beloved of tea time aficionados. And, happily, they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some even have nuts, dried fruis, and chocolate added in. Serving up a variety of these shapes and flavors can really enliven your tea time!

My fave shape with a nice cuppa tea! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

My fave shape with a nice cuppa tea! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

The Bar (“Finger”) Shape

This shape is just a long rectangle. To me it’s the best, probably because it was the first I’d ever had. Or maybe because I can nibble from the end more easily than the other shapes. Shortbread, loaded with butter, is the type of thing to nibble.

  • Walkers Shortbread Fingers – 5.3oz (150g) – Imported from the UK, these are the classic shortbread recipe traditionally baked in a square and then cut into a “fingers” shape. Pure butter shortbread with a perfect, crumbly “melt-in-the-mouth” texture and just the right amount of sweetness. A perfect accompaniment to hot or iced tea and with a dish of ice cream.
  • Border Scottish Shortbread Fingers – 6.7oz (190g) – These light and buttery cookies are sure to melt in your mouth. They’re made from an original recipe, using only the finest ingredients. Share with friends and family or just enjoy some to keep your sweet tooth happy.
  • O’Neill’s Shortbread – Fingers – 5oz (141g) – Imported from the UK and baked from an age-old recipe passed down for generations. They use only the finest and freshest ingredients, making this shortbread a delicious and buttery addition to afternoon tea.

The Round & Swirl Shapes

The rounds are a great shape, too. And a bit more suitable for dunking.

  • Walkers Shortbread Rounds – 5.3oz (150g) – Imported from the UK, these are very traditional, being miniature versions of the larger cakes of shortbread produced in olden days. They have a rich distinctive buttery taste and are baked in the secluded village of Aberlour, Speyside, in the heart of the Scottish Highlands according to a traditional recipe handed down through generations of the Walker family. The perfect accompaniment to tea and ideal with ice cream or desserts.
  • Walkers Shortbread Rounds – 2 Pack – 1.2oz (0.075g) – Those wonderful rounds in convenient take-along packs. Each pack of shortbread biscuits contains 2 delicious, buttery cookies.

The Petticoat Tails Shape

A unique shapes said to resemble the edges of a woman’s petticoat (something us gals don’t wear much anymore). They may have been inspired by Mary Queen of Scots, who returned from France (where she grew up, was married, and then widowed) to Scotland during the 16th century. Her chefs are said to have modified the traditional large, round shortbread cakes into individual servings.

Various Other Shapes

Triangles, shamrocks

  • Walkers Shortbread Triangles – 5.3oz (150g) – Baked in the Scottish Highlands from just four natural ingredients. The triangle shape makes a particularly impressive addition as a garnish on mousse, puddings and ice cream.
  • ONeills Shamrock Shortbread – 2.8oz (80g) – Imported from Ireland, these buttery treats are shaped like delightful shamrocks. The recipe was passed down by generations and contains the simplest, yet finest ingredients, blended and baked to delicious perfection. A good luck gift from Ireland.

Some of Those Flavored Kinds

As if that buttery goodness weren’t enough, some makers now add currants, nuts, and chocolate chips.

  • McVities Fruit Shortcake – 7.05oz (200g) – A delicious crumbly shortbread biscuit packed full of currants. The perfect accompaniment to afternoon tea.
  • Border Chocolate Chip Shortbread – 5.3oz (150g) – A generous helping of sweet chocolate chips are poured into Border’s classic shortbread recipe to bring you this decadent treat.
  • Walker Chocolate Chip Shortbread- 4.4oz (124g) – Bountiful amounts of real chocolate chips and Walkers have never looked back. Chocolate Chip Shortbread brings a certain self-indulgence to teatime which is why this variety has become one of their most popular.
  • Walkers Shortbread Almond – 5.3oz (150g) – A classic shortbread with a delicious almond flavor that comes from the finest almonds and pure almond oil added to the traditional shortbread recipe. A flavor that is uniquely exquisite and that is a perfect accompaniment to your hot cuppa tea.

A word to the wise for the holiday season that will soon be upon us: watch for shortbread cookies in those special holiday shapes to reappear. What’s tea time without a munchable, buttery sweet evergreen tree, bell, star, or Santa?

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Quick – name a tea estate. Yeah, me too. Even though I’ve written about tea for nearly a decade, I find that I’m a bit stumped by that one. The few exceptions would be Tregothnan Estate in Britain, and our very own Charleston Tea Plantation, located in South Carolina. Though admittedly these stand out more for the fact that they are tea estates located in countries where such things are not normally found.

One of the few other tea estates that I personally know by name is Makaibari Tea Estate, in Darjeeling. The Darjeeling region of India, though it produces only a tiny fraction of the tea that issues forth from India’s more productive Assam region, has become synonymous for the most part with high-quality premium varieties of flavorful black tea.

As they claim at their web site, in a brief overview evocatively titled The Magical Mystical Makaibari, the estate “is the world’s first tea factory and was established in 1859.” Real Darjeeling tea (as opposed to the substantial amounts that are said to be counterfeited) generally sells at something of a premium, compared to many tea varieties. But some of the teas that come from Makaibari, and in particular their Silver Tips Imperial, take the notion of premium to a new level, with prices that are measured in multiples of many other Darjeeling teas.

As the company notes at their web site, Silver Tips Imperial is the world’s most expensive tea. As they put it, “Two decades of passionate devotion has resulted in the ultimate tea experience. Plucked under full moon beams, the blaze of Silver Tips Imperial highlights the subtleties of Darjeeling terroir, imperiously.”

Which paints a very nice picture indeed, though it should be noted that this and others of the company’s teas can be purchased directly from their site at comparatively reasonable prices. Nowadays the company is passing from the hands of Swaraj Kumar Banerjee, who took over the operation in 1970. Their long standing reputation goes a long way toward explaining why the new owners – the Luxmi Group, also of India – say that Makaibari “is the jewel in what is called the golden mile of the most important grow region in the world. If Darjeeling is the champagne of teas, Makaibari is the Krug or Henri Giraud.”

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Miami, Florida, residents got a chance to taste some wonderful teas! (Screen capture from site)

Miami, Florida, residents got a chance to taste some wonderful teas! (Screen capture from site)

Pop-up tea shows and events began a few years back. The first ones I heard of were by a tea guy, formerly in Australia and now in the UK. He arranged to offer some of his teas and a carefully orchestrated selection of food items at a local market. Since then, I have seen other events popping up here and there, the latest being one in Miami, Florida, conducted by a local tea vendor there (so well-attended that they scheduled more). They helped introduce attendees not only to their fine tea products but also to a world of tea that goes totally beyond the stuff on your grocer’s shelves.

Why Attend One of These Shows

Life is busy – hectic, even. And it can take days, weeks, months, and even years (or perhaps a lifetime) to learn about tea. But you can get some exposure, try some truly good teas, meet some like-minded people (at least as far as learning more about tea goes), and generally have a good time. Fun, entertaining, educational, and usually very reasonable priced (compared with tickets at the cinema or concert hall). You might even find yourself inspired to go a bit further and put on your own pop-up tea event, treat friends, neighbors, and even relatives to some great tea and a bit of info. Sampler packs are a great way to start. You get smaller amounts of tea in a variety of flavors. And you can pick a theme: green teas (including some flavored with fruits, etc.), a particular occasion (Halloween, first day of Autumn, a birthday, etc.), a particular location (Japanese teas, top 10 Chinese teas, Darjeeling teas, etc.).

How to Find a Pop-up Tea Show Near You

This is a bit of a toughie. Sometimes these events don’t have good advance notice. It depends on whose handling the event. The best advice I can give here is to seek out tea vendors near you. One source is a fairly new site called World Tea Directory. Another, of course, is the online Yellow Pages (or even the old-fashioned printed kind). Or search through social media sites for local establishments. You can contact the tea vendors about if they are planning any such events and if they have a mailing list you can join. Or start following them on Facebook, Twitter, etc., to see their announcements. And when you see that announcement, don’t hesitate to sign up.

Enjoy!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

(ETS image)

(ETS image)

Fall is coming up fast, so your fall teapot line-up needs to be brought out of storage and prepared for duTEA. Don’t have any Fall teapots? Goodness gracious! Something needs to be done about that and quickly. Fortunately, I have the solution – eight teapots that will bring a feeling of that crisp, clean, cool, Fall air to your tea time.

1 James Sadler Big Ben Monument Teapot

For some reason, Big Ben, the worlds largest four faced chiming clock, makes me think of cooler Fall-time weather. The clock is just over 155 years old and is regarded by many as the most popular landmark in the UK. Small wonder that Sadler, known for their collectible and iconic designs, would make a teapot version of this clock tower. This one is trimmed in gold and will fit in nicely with your houseful of teawares – or give you a good start on your own collection. Teapot measures 8″ high x 7″ wide, and holds 2 cups (about 20oz). Not recommended for microwave or dishwasher use.

2 English Garden Teapot

The colors of fall are well-displayed here in this hand-painted ceramic teapot. The sturdy design also seems to convey Fall, the season of harvest and bounty. The teapot holds 34 ounces, a good size for having a friend over and sharing a cuppa with them. Don’t forget the matching cream and sugar set.

3 English Cottage Fine Bone China Teapot

The iconic English country cottage is also a symbol of chilly weather outside and a warm fire inside with a nice pot of tea and cakes. This teapot, from the English Heirloom Collection, holds 6 cups to warm you thoroughly and serve your guests. It is pleasing to the eye as well with fine gold edging, vibrant colors, and a detailed rendition of the well known cottage of Anne Hathaway against crisp white English bone china. (The pattern is available as a complete tea set, too.)

4 Blue Willow Porcelain Teapot with Infuser

One of the most enduring transferware patterns is Blue Willow. This teapot holds 32 ounces, nice for a Fall tea time with a friend or two. The pattern had been around since the late 1700s and depicts the famous Chinese legend of a wealthy man whose daughter falls in love with his clerk. The young couple elopes and the father pursues them through his garden and onto the bridge where they transform into lovebirds and fly off beyond his reach. Central components to the story, the weeping willow, pagoda, bridge and lovebirds, are shown on every piece. The teapot will be quite the focus of conversation for your guests as you tell them the story.

5 Hemisphere 32oz Teapot

Orange and round like a pumpkin, this teapot, which holds 32 ounces of tasty hot tea, is ideal for a Fall tea time. The contemporary styling will suit those of you with that more modern flair to your décor. The durable stoneware helps keep your tea warm longer and assures that this teapot will serve up cup after cup for many years.

6 Wedgwood Oberon Floral Teapot

A bit more formal in design, this teapot is elegant yet very much in line with the Fall theme here. The exotic Chinese-inspired pattern is in soft shades of green and gold, with black accents, against pure white fine bone china. The border is of pale sage green with red accents, featuring vine motifs, bursts of flora and rimmed with lustrous 22-karat gold. It holds 1.4 pints of hot tea, so is a smaller one in our line-up.

7 James Sadler Teapots – Red Lion

I couldn’t resist including another Sadler design here. This teapot, depicting the Red Lion Pub in rich detail with flowers and even a dog on the front steps, will be quite the show piece at tea time. Your guest will be examining every side while enjoying the tea inside. This bone china teapot is a bit smaller, holding only about 16 ounces, for that more intimate tea time.

8 Country Sunflower Teapot

Another teapot with the colors of Fall accentuated by country sunflowers and made of sturdy ceramic. It holds 35 ounces for serving to your guests. And don’t forget the scones!

As cooler weather approaches, and the leaves begin their annual transformation, let your teapot reflect that seasonal change and bring the spirit of Fall to your tea time!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The word is that tea can be good for your health. You might have already heard that one. Or you might have read some articles on the topic, such as the ones we have listed here. But as I was sorting through patent records recently, something I do from time to time, I discovered that tea has been proposed as a remedy for some ailments that we probably haven’t covered at this site.

If you’re like me, you can’t help but cast a skeptical eye on remedies and alleged cures for hair loss. I’m not saying that a patent for Hair Treatment Lotion is one to generate skepticism, but one can’t help wondering. It was issued a few years ago and, to summarize, “the invention provides a hair treatment lotion of green tea, gentian, and geranium in aqueous solution, and methods for using this lotion to prevent or treat hair loss.”

If that’s not enough hair loss remedies for you try, the even more recent Composition and Method for Treatment of Hair Loss With a Combination of Natural Ingredients. It apparently does not use actual tea as one of its components but rather epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), an active compound in tea that’s alleged to provide a wide range of health benefits. There’s also some caffeine and saw palmetto berry extract in there, just to liven things up.

If it’s the scourge of migraines that plagues you, then you might find it interesting to review a 2005 patent with the unwieldy title, Comprises Brewing Black Pekoe Tea, Then Adding Aspirin Tablets, Apple Cider Vinegar, and Honey. Which pretty much says it all, except to note that “The entire hot and concentrated composition is then cooled over ice so that a person suffering from a migraine headache may quickly drink it.”

If you’re looking to recover more quickly from your next bout of exercise, there may be hope in the form of a 2013 patent called Use of Tea-Derived, Theaflavin Enriched Extract to Increase Exercise Performance and Reduce Exercise Recovery Time. Then there’s the Anaerobic Tea Steeper and Method of Use. This one is not designed to address any specific treatment but rather is intended “to maximize the preservation of the antioxidants in the aqueous tea extract to be used as a health-promoting beverage.”

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Guayusa tea with chai (Screen capture from Twitter)

Guayusa tea with chai (Screen capture from Twitter)

The world of tea is already complex enough, with all kinds of terminology flying around, so it’s small wonder that terms get a bit…uh, rather jumbled. The bad part is that it causes confusion for many who may not have a level of knowledge to help them distinguish one thing from another.

By far the most rampant egregious tea term usage is “Chai Tea.” It’s everywhere. And it’s the sort of thing that makes my teeth hurt when I see it, the way the sound of fingernails on a blackboard does. Some of you may be asking, “What’s wrong with ‘chai tea’?” The fact that you ask is what is wrong with the term. It is so prevalent that few know what “chai tea” really is. Most of us think of it as that tea available mainly during the Winter holidays and with a predominantly cinnamon character to it. In reality, “chai” is another word for tea. See some more of these words here.

Speaking of cinnamon, that’s another term misusage but not strictly a tea term, so I only mention it here as a side note. Much of what we know in the U.S. and Europe as “cinnamon” is actually a similar plant called cassia. The difference matters mainly to those trying to take advantage of various health benefits that true cinnamon is supposed to have and that cassia does not. See my article here.

Another term that raises the hairs on the back of my neck is “red tea” when it refers to Rooibos (“redbush”). In reality, “red tea” is the Asian name for what we call “black tea” – fully oxidized Camellia sinensis leaves. Rooibos is a completely different plant, as shown in my article here.

“Herbal tea” can be just as bad, causing unending confusion for folks who need to avoid caffeine and are advised by their doctors to avoid tea. Many of these herbals have no caffeine. So the manufacturers have to add “caffeine free’ to the package that is already crowded with other data of questionable usefulness.

Tea Room applied to a corner of a small restaurant is another horrifying spectacle. Doesn’t a room have those tall, solid, hard things? I think they’re called “walls.” In general, the term “tea room” is getting totally overused to the point where people just attach it to the name of their eatery to add what they think is a touch of class. See my article here.

But the most egregious thing we’ve seen so far is a photo of a teabag in a mug with a packet beside it labeled “Guayusa Tea with Chai.” Egads!! The issues: Guayusa is not tea but rather the leaves of a holly tree (ilex guayusa) from Ecuador in South America (and it does have caffeine); and chai is tea, but in this case they are using it to mean spices (which are not specified). Just heaping on the tea terms there – possibly a way to get on the tea bandwagon.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Ecstasy is a glass full of tea and a piece of sugar in the mouth. – Alexander Pushkin

Czar Nicolas Russian Caravan Tea (ETS image)

Czar Nicolas Russian Caravan Tea (ETS image)

If you’re like me, then when you think of great tea-drinking nations, you probably think of the United Kingdom. Who are actually topped in tea-drinking by countries like Turkey, where they consume nearly three times as much as the Brits on a per capita basis. Then, there’s Morocco, Ireland, and Mauritania, all of which fill the spots on the list just ahead of the UK.

One of the countries that you might not think of when you think of great tea drinkers is Russia. But they have a long history of tea drinking and are credited with popularizing and possibly even inventing the samovar, one of the world’s earliest tea gadgets.

Given the proximity of the two countries, it’s probably no surprise that China eventually started trading one of their precious and unique commodities – tea – with Russia. Russians are first thought to have tasted tea – at least according to the historical record – in the early seventeenth century when envoys from the Tsar, who were dispatched to Mongolia in 1616, encountered a strange beverage made with leaves. About two decades later Mongolia made a gift of about 600 pounds of tea (though that amount varies, depending on the source) to the Tsar. His envoy grumbled a bit, remarking that furs would have been a better choice than these curious leaves.

But tea began to catch on, and by 1674 a Swedish envoy noted that it was being sold in Moscow for 30 kopeks a pound and was claimed to be a remedy for the ills brought on by drinking too much of the harder stuff. By the early to mid-eighteenth century tea had begun to regularly make the long journey from China to Russia, often by camel caravan. Much like in Britain, as the popularity increased and larger supplies were imported, prices fell even further and things began to snowball. By 1810, according to one source, one Russian trading guild was responsible for importing nearly three million pounds of tea into the country.

And so it went. Nowadays the Russians are not ranked all the way at the top of the world’s tea drinking nations. But the beverage is still something of an institution there and enough tea is consumed to put Russia’s citizens fifteenth on the list of tea drinking peoples.

See also 5 Signs That You’re “Going Russian” at Tea Time

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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