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Russia: Tea or Chai as Russians Call It!

teaI was drinking my morning cup of coffee and thinking about how Russians adore hot tea. This is not a admiration that I seem to be able to adapt to being from America…
tea
Tea in Russia is an integral part of of the culture. Seems all Russian people like my wife have a real love for it. Whether you take it with a splash of milk or a slice of lemon when not feeling good; whether you brew it with a teabag in a porcelain cup or in a samovar (picture to left); in Russia is likely to be party of your daily life. In fact, despite the best efforts of the Coca-Cola Company to promote soft drinks, people in Russia drink more tea than all other drinks put together. That sort of popularity raises the status of tea from mere drink to cultural institution…

There are two different legends as to how tea was originally discovered:

The Chinese Legend of Tea:

Around five thousand years ago, The Chinese Emperor Shen Nung (Divine Healer), was revered as a great teacher of agriculture and herbal medicine. He took pride in teaching his people the value of cultivating the land and the wisdom in boiling water to make it safer to drink and believed that it also increased longevity. One day, while working in his own garden, Shen Nung was enjoying a cup of steaming water when he noticed that a few leaves of a nearby camellia-like bush had blown into the imperial cup. Sipping the concoction he discovered a drink that was refreshing, relaxing yet exhilarating and increased his sense of well-being…

And – so tea was born…

The Japanese Buddhist Legend of Chai:

The Japanese legend traces tea’s beginnings to Prince Bodhidharma, (also known as Daruma) who was a missionary monk. He was instrumental in bringing Buddhism from India to China and Japan. During his mission Bodhidharma began a nine-year meditation in a temple, built in a cave, in Canton. Growing tired after endless months of staring at a stone wall, he fell asleep. When he awoke, Bodhidharma was so disgusted with himself for sleeping, that he cut off his eyelids and threw them to the ground. It was there, according to legend, that the first tea plant grew, providing Bodhidharma with the leaves with which to make an elixir that kept him awake and refreshed, for the remaining years of his mission…

And – so tea was born…

While a 2007 a survey showed that 85 percent of Russians drink at least one cup of tea a day. It is said to have been introduced to Russia in 1616 when a Cossack by the name of Tyumenets returned from a diplomatic mission to Mongolia with samples of Chinese tea. From that point on it started the trip to become Russia’s main drink!

Russians have become such devoted tea drinkers that as a nation they are the third-largest consumers of tea (behind China and India). Today, Russia’s thirst for tea is satisfied by production in Georgia (which has now developed into the seventh-largest tea producing region in the world) as well as imports from China, Taiwan, India, and Sri Lanka…

I myself will have a cup of tea with my wife once in awhile, but coffee is my drink. I grew up on iced tea and to me hot tea was always, for when you are not feeling well…

What about you, is Tea your main drink?

Post by Kyle Keeton
Windows to Russia…

The copy scores 62.3 in the Flesch Reading Ease test, which is considered OK to read…

3 Comments

  1. blackseabrew May 27, 2013

    I find it strange when snooty coffee shops offer ‘chai’ flavored’ tea here in the states. Seriously?! When arrogance meets ignorance.

  2. Kyle Keeton Post author | May 27, 2013

    Chai flavored? 🙂 That is just “Special!”

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