The Russian love of tea: A short history


Since 1638, tea has had a rich and varied history in Russia. Due in part to Russia’s cold northern climate, it is today one of the most popular beverages in the country and is closely associated with traditional Russian culture. It was traditionally drunk at afternoon tea but has since spread as an all-day drink especially at the end of meals served with dessert. An important aspect of the Russian tea culture is the ubiquitous Russian tea brewing device known as a samovar, which has become a symbol of hospitality and comfort.

Between the Treaty of Nerchinsk and the Treaty of Kyakhta (1727), Russia increased its caravans going to China for tea but only through state dealers. In 1706, Peter the Great made it illegal for any merchants to trade in Beijing. In 1736, Catherine the Great established regular imports of tea. By the time of Catherine’s death in 1796, Russia was importing more than 3 million pounds by camel caravan in the form of loose tea and tea bricks, enough tea to considerably lower the price so that middle and lower class Russians could afford the beverage.

Today, Russia is the world’s 4th biggest consumer of tea per person after Turkey, Ireland and the UK. We have a page on our website dedicated to our Russian customers.

In : History, Tea

About the author