Russian tea-drinking tradition first began in 1638 when the Russian Tsar Michael Fedorovich received a tea-set as a gift from Altyun-Khan, then the ruler of Mongolia. Russian tea is served following meals and in the afternoon. Guests are often invited to a cup of tea, served along with cookies, sandwiches, candies, and cakes. Making tea the classical way by boiling it in a pot on the stove is still much preferred in Russia, even with the advent of modern tea bags. Russian families usually have their own porcelain tea-pots of various sizes and decorations, with the most plain ones being used for everyday tea-drinking and the most decorative being used for festive occasions. Here is a recipe for a modern-day and "Americanized" Russian tea created for the winter holidays:
- 6 cups cold water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 6 whole cloves
- 4 black tea bags
- 1 cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup sugar, more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Bring water, cinnamon stick and cloves to a boil in a medium saucepan; remove from heat and add tea bags. Steep, covered, for 5 minutes. Discard the tea bags and whole spices.
In a small saucepan, heat orange juice, lemon juice, sugar and nutmeg. Warm until the sugar dissolves.
Add the juice mixture to the tea. Taste and add more sugar if desired. Reheat and serve.