Russian Samovars


First appearing in the eighteenth century as a teakettle with a chimney, the Russian samovar was fashioned, over many decades, into a host of forms, some preserving the classical shapes of eighteenth-century vases, others made with detachable legs to meet the needs of travelers who liked to take their tea in their carriages or on the train. The detailing on the samovar also changed over time- the tap and handles made in the shapes of twigs, dolphins, and curved abstract stalks.

Difficult to trace origin, but in late 18th and early 19th centuries the town of Tula became the centerof samovar production.


The samovar was a common appliance in every section of Russian society: in the Tsar's palace, in a tavern, and in the homes of peasants.

First samovar workshop in Tula was started by Ivan Lisitsin in the 1870s. At this time samovars were also being produced in workshops in Yroslavl, Nizhny-Novgorod, Moscow, and St. Petersburg.


Complicated process. In the earliest period of samovar production is it likely that a samovar would be produced by a single craftsman. Soon, however, workers began specializing in making separate parts of samovars. The most important part - the body - was shaped by a "navodiltschick" out of a copper sheet on a special mould.

Since the middle of the 19th century, larger workshops ordered the various parts from private craftsmen, each of whom had a personal style.


The material played an important role: samovars were made from red, yellow, and green copper, tompack (alloy of several metals), and silver; they were nickel plated, nielloed, and silver plated. One can find samovars made of iron, cast iron and "Tula" steel." Materials determined the price of a samovar and its ultimate destination.


Very few of the earliest samovars (mid-late 18th century) bear any markings to indicate where they were made.

In the 19th century, especially the second half, when samovar production became one of the dominant industries in the non-ferrous metal field, competing firms started marking samovars with their own trademarks, and decorating them with medals and emblems awarded to their workshop.

Tea Traditions

Over the course of the last two hundred years, the tea ceremony has become one of the strongest and most pervasive cultural traditions in Central Russia. Since its introduction from China early in the seventeenth century, tea has become the Russians' favorite drink. The tea ceremony has become not only a cultural tradition but also has developed into a strong communicational bond for the society.

Russians have developed an interesting system of teapots, cups, caddies and other accessories for the tea ceremony. The original Russian teapot has an egg-round shape with a long, beautifully curved spout and a strong handle. Russians drink two or three different kinds of tea at one time. They mix herbal and black teas together and dilute the mixture with hot water. Therefore, usually two or three teapots all are used at once. Sitting on top of each other, the teapots serve to keep the teas warm for a long time. The bottom teapot holds hot water for diluting the tea and it is the largest one. The next one contains a black tea, brewing a very strong tea. The top and smallest one usually has a herbal or mint tea.

The whole composition of the complete teapots structure is reminiscent of a building's architecture - perhaps the Russian orthodox church with its whimsical pattern of onion-heads roof. Frequently leads, the spouts and handles of the teapots, have been decorated with images from daily life. At the turn of the eighteenth century, there were more than one hundred little porcelain and ceramics factories producing tea-sets in Central Russia. Each of them had different patterns and traditions of decorating ceramics. But in general, the tradition of decorating the tea services with little figures of people and animals, scenes from everyday life or scenes from popular folk stories and songs were most popular. The major part of the decoration was often a script with a teaching proverb or a line from a song. Beautiful landscapes were also often depicted on these teapots.

Some of the teapots and also tea caddies were also made in a shape of human bodies. The tea caddy or jar for storing whole leaf teas became very popular in Russia, with the top of the caddy also serving as a measuring cup for dispensing the tea. Each tea caddy represents a different type of black or herbal tea. There are teas for health, prosperity, general well-being, romance and other affairs of human nature.


Traditional Russian Tea I

Tea bags 2 (or enough to make1 gal. tea)
Water 1 cup
Sugar 2 cups
Pineapple juice 1 (48 oz.) can
Whole cloves 40
Large frozen orange juice 1
Cinnamon 4 sticks
Lemon juice Juice from 6 lemons
Water 4 cups

Preparation: Use tea bags and 1 cup water; bring to boil. Set aside. Mix cloves, cinnamon and 4 cups water; bring to boil. Simmer 20 minutes; let cool. Mix sugar, pineapple juice, orange juice and lemon juice. Mix all ingredients.

Traditional Russian Tea II (Great Russia)

Orange-Pekoe tea 6 Tbs
Sweet apple cider 1/2 cup
Whole cloves 4
Boiling water 2 quarts

Preparation: Steep 10 minutes, strain and sweeten with sugar, honey or strawberry jam.

Ukrainian Spiced Tea

Black tea 4 Tbs
Grated orange rind 2 Tbs
Cinnamon 1 tsp
Boiling water 2 quarts
Whole cloves 8

Preparation: Steep 10 minutes, strain and sweeten to taste with honey.

Georgian Spiced Tea

Green tea 6 Tbs
Grated orange peel 1 Tbs
Grated lemon peel 1 Tbs
Boiling water 2 quarts

Preparation: Steep until very strong, strain and sweeten to taste with honey or sugar and serve very hot.

Instant "Russian Tea" I

Instant tea 1 cup
Cinnamon 1 tsp
Tang orange crystals 2 cups
Cloves 1/2 tsp
White sugar 1 1/4 cups

Preparation: Mix ingredients well. Store in covered jar. Use 1 rounded tablespoon in hot water.

Instant "Russian Tea" II

Instant tea 30 c
Sugar 60 c
Tang instant orange drink 60 c
Cinnamon 60 ts
Dry lemonade mix 30 Envelope
Cloves 15 ts

Preparation: Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Keep in sealed jar. Mix with hot or cold water - 3 to 4 teaspoon to a glass, more or less to taste.

Instant "Russian Tea" III

Tang 2 cups
Cinnamon 2 teaspoons
Presweetened lemonade mix 2 packages
Cloves 1 teaspoon
Instant tea with lemon 1/2 cup
Sugar 1/2 to 1 cup(optional)

Preparation: Mix all of the ingredients together, then store in an air-tight container. Dissolve 2-6 teaspoons (depending on your tastes) per cup of boiling water.

Random House / Grandfather Frost / Alaska Gallery

Russian American Company