Even though tea for Russians did not originate in the country, their love for the beverage has made it the de facto national drink. Owing to the cold climate, the beverage is more than welcome at anytime of the day and is now a regular affair.
In Russia, the first tea was delivered to the Russian tsar Michael I (Mikhail Fyodorovich Romanov) in the 1630s by a Mongolian ruler. A second gift of tea was made around 1680 to Alexis I (Aleksey Mikhailovich) by a Chinese ambassador who was negotiating trade relationships with Russia. Back then, tea was a luxury item, but today, it is an essential beverage in Russia, served in unique tea ware.
With the acceptance and popularity of tea in Russia came various indigenous traditions.In Russia. It is common to find tea being served at the end of the meal along with the desserts. The Russians prefer their tea strong and sweet, and sometimes, served with mint or lemon, or sweetened with fruit jam.
The vessel which is used to brew tea in is called Samovar. It is a metallic utensil which is made with a tap attached to it. Tea brews made in this vessel are generally strong. In 2002, Russia imported some 162,000 metric tons of tea. Even though tea bags have now started being frequently, the artisanship of the Samovar makes them a collectible item.