Чай (часть вторая)

by Don  

The Russian word for tea is чай. Russians drink a lot of hot tea, even when it's hot out. They seem to have this theory that if you drink hot tea, then you sweat, and sweat cools you down, so drinking hot tea cools you down. Don't try to argue with the logic of that. They won't buy it.

In the States if you ask someone under 30 how to make tea, they will probably tell you something like: "Put the teabag (чайный пакетик) in the cup (чашка). Pour in boiling water (кипяток). When the water changes color, pull the teabag out." If they are tea experts, they might add, "Pull out the teabag as soon as the water changes color or the tea will turn out bitter." A Russian would just laugh at that. Yes, Russians have teabags, but making tea with them is a sign of incompetence. That's right: tea-bagging = incompetence.

So how do Russians make tea? Obviously you have to start with a чайник teapot:

You may notice that the teapot is not the same thing as an American tea kettle. The teapot is smaller. If you rotate it, then you see that it has a built-in strainer:

Here's how it works. You put a ton of tea in the teapot, then you add hot water. This makes a заварка, which is an intense tea brew. You then fill your cup perhaps one fourth full of the заварка:

Then you take hot water out of a tea kettle which has brought the water to a temperature so hot that even the animals around Chernobyl would be intimidated:

You then fill the the cup with the Chernobyl water:

You then let it cool down a bit, say for 1.5 days (полтора дня). Then you drink the tea. And that's the proper way to make tea.

Okay, I was kidding about the 1.5 days part. But they really do heat the water up über-hot, and you really do have to let it cool a while.:.


Comment from: Andrey [Visitor]  

Ай, ай, ай какая горячая вода! А, блюдечко, на фотографии зачем? Вот, именно, затем, что налил в блюдечко из чашки и пей себе. А, вприкуску пьют так - откалывают маленький кусочек очень твердого сахара (специальный сахар), кладут его в рот и прижимают кончиком языка к нижним зубам. Вкусовые рецепторы на кончике языка и дают ощущение сладости. Так, с одним кусочком, можно выпить хоть ведро чая.

10/17/10 @ 12:52
Comment from: Yegor [Visitor]

There is something confusing about teapots and teakettles: in Russian they both are “чайник”.

As for sugar, we (not all Russians, but many of the people I know) don’t put sugar if there is some sweet to eat with tea.

07/16/10 @ 07:20
Comment from: Nicolas [Visitor]

I had been waiting for this post! Tea is a wonderful drink. I once met a Russian who drank tea this way, but thought it was a bit weird (adding water to the tea). I’m not sure I agree with this procedure!

07/05/10 @ 21:14
Comment from: Edgar [Visitor]

Thanks, Andrey. Those were the exact terms which I had forgotten.

07/04/10 @ 20:07
Comment from: Andrey [Visitor]

Not sure about the cheeks :) but drinking tea and biting a cube of sugar from time to time is called “пить чай вприкуску", as opposed to “внакладку” when you put it in the tea. Every Russian knows a story about Lenin who teaches children this habit. There are many stories like that showing that Lenin was very close to the ordinary people.

07/03/10 @ 01:26
Comment from: Edgar [Visitor]

Excellent article. And as Andrei says, don’t forget about the sugar. I never met a Russian who didn’t use sugar in tea; they viewed me as some sort of alien because I didn’t. (I came from Irish background and my folks couldn’t afford using sugar in their tea.) Also, some Russians take a cube of sugar into their cheeks while drinking the liquid tea. There is a name for this but I forget it.

07/02/10 @ 16:14
Comment from: Andrey [Visitor]

Cool post, I’m a tea person myself and I can confirm it’s completely true.

Although nowadays these teapots begin to extinct (sad, but true). There’s more and more people making tea by teabagging (personally I agree with “incompetence” part :) or just pouring кипяток into a mug with a teaspoon of tea inside. I still use a teapot.

Another interesting fact is that nowadays people began to drink green tea. In the times of USSR it was weird, black tea was дефицит (maybe make an article about that word?) and there was green tea but nobody drank it. Maybe it was of horrible quality, I’m not sure.

And do you put the sugar? Russians almost always put like 3 teaspoons of sugar per mug.

07/02/10 @ 03:14

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