Russian Tea Ceremonies
Tea is probably the favourite drink in Russia. It is made and served in teapots or samovars - a Russian tea kettle.
In some areas they use three teapots that sit on top of each other to keep the tea warm. Often they are decorated with pictures from Russian folk stories and sometimes, they are made in the shape of something so that when they fit together they look like a person or an animal.
Three teapots are used when you want to make two different kinds of tea at the same time.
The middle pot usually holds strong black tea, the smallest pot on the top holds herbal or mint tea, and the large pot on the bottom holds hot water. The teas can be mixed with each other and diluted with hot water as you pour out each cup. Everyone can mix the type of tea they like.
Tea is drunk from a special glass called a stakan which is usually held in a silver metal holder called a podstakannik.
In Russia, tea is usually drunk after meals rather than with a meal but when tea is made using a samovar it is ready to be used all day long. A samovar is shaped like an urn and there is a special place for a small teapot to sit on the top.
Water is heated in the samovar and a strong dark tea is made using lots of tea leaves in the teapot on top. The strong tea is called zavarka. The tea is so strong that it has to be diluted with water from the samovar before you can drink it.
You mix a drop of tea with hot water taken from the tap or spout on the front of the samovar. As the water is used you need to refill the samovar and every few hours you have to make a fresh pot of black tea.
Some samovars are small and only hold about three litres of water but some can hold up to 30 litres. Samovars are usually made from metal. You can see them in homes, in offices and in restaurants.