Tea is grown in Russia? Yes, some. Tea is certainly a popular beverage in Russia and has been since the first half of the 17th century, with regular deliveries having started in 1689 per an agreement signed with China. The samovar was contrived to make the most of every precious drop and to assure that hot tea was available throughout the day, especially when people came to call. Jams and honey and baked treats would also be available.
While tea tourism in some countries is becoming as much of an important part of their economies as the tea itself, in Russia the tea is grown off the beaten tourist path in Abkhazia, and the tea bushes are considered the property of nearby villages. These fields are leftovers from the Soviet era, when they were trying to be independent of China for this particular crop. Tea growing and production doesn’t seem to have much of a future in this part of Russia now, though, with tea plants being increasingly let go wild. Tea harvesting in Abkhazia includes a lot of excess plant matter, often more voluminous than the sellable tea, and has to be processed out of the final product. It actually ends up being burned in the furnaces to roast the tea leaves.
A little while back, a blogger posted some terrific photos and information about tea growing and production in Abkhazia. I must confess, though, that most of the images were not very appetizing. The factories where the tea leaves were processed during the Soviet era are in need of repair but cannot be done due to lack of funds.
The photos of the factories are a turn off. Some things you should just never see made. (Thanks to the show Unwrapped on Food TV, I don’t eat Grape Nuts anymore.) Oscar Wilde once said that women and sausages were two things you should never see being prepared (I’m paraphrasing here – it’s from his play “Mrs. Windemere’s Fan”). It’s certainly true with Russian-grown and processed tea.
[Editor’s note: Comments were posted here stating that Abkhazia is not part of Russia or associated with it politically. The comments were removed until this information could be verified but were inadvertently deleted as part of spam clean-up. At this time, while the commenters have submitted their proofs, my source sticks by his assertion. As blog editor, I strive for accuracy in all my articles. At this time, I am leaving things as they currently stand.]
From Russia with … Tea!
Tea Traditions — Russia
© 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.