Tea was first introduced to Russia in 1638 when Russian Tsar Michael Fedorovich received tea as a diplomatic gift from Altyun-Khan, the ruler of Mongolia. Since then tea drinking has become a favorite drink in Russian culture, second only to vodka.
While it is not considered appropriate to drink tea with a meal, Russians frequently consume tea after meals and during mid-afternoon breaks. Drinking tea is considered a social activity and was historically was served during intimate conversations, business discussions, and even marriage arrangements. Tea is still considered a social activity to this day and people often visit each other’s’ homes for “cup of tea”.
Russian tea is almost exclusively black tea, although most do not add anything to their tea, alcohol is the most frequent addition. In Russian culture it is considered rude to serve tea without any food to go with it; sweets such as cookies, pies, biscuits and candy are often served with tea.
The most unique element of the tea culture in Russia is the dishware
Russians use when drinking tea:
Loose leaf tea is brewed in a brewing pot or a “samovar”, special tea-making dish influenced by a teapot brought from Holland by Tsar Peter the Great. Brewing pots are used to brew a small, strong, pot of tea which is then poured, in small portions, into an individual’s cup. He or she then dilutes the tea with hot water to bring the tea to his or her strength preference. Samovars are tall devices containing a two to three basins for hot water, and one or two types of tea. They are often decorated with paintings of Russian folk stories and are occasionally made in the shape of a person or animal. To keep the tea hot, many Russians have tea cozies called “baba na samovar” (woman on samovar) to go atop their samovar. Russians also drink tea from special glasses, “stakan s podstakanni kom” (glass with metal holder), introduced in the 17th century.
Afternoon tea, cream tea, high tea… confused as to which type of tea service is right for you? Don’t worry, Elden Street Tea Shop has you covered!
Afternoon tea is a social event that originated in the 1840s when a duchess grew hungry between lunch and dinner. The duchess invited her friends for tea and a light snack to carry them through the afternoon. As this was not a formal meal, the women would sit in the parlor in low slung armchairs, hence earning afternoon tea it’s other common name, “Low Tea”.
Afternoon Tea is typically served around 4pm and features finger foods such as small sandwiches, scones, macaroons, and other treats. This social gathering is commonly mistakenly referred to as “High Tea” and was traditionally reserved for the upper class.
Originating in Devon and Cornwall, England, Cream Tea is a paired down version of Afternoon Tea and features the traditional last course of Afternoon Tea. At a Cream Tea the tea is served with scones, clotted cream, and jam.
High Tea first began when the lower class could not take lunch breaks during work. Instead they would come home and serve tea and a hearty meal of cold cuts, cheese and meat pies for their family. This service would characteristically be enjoyed at dinner table, hence the name “High Tea”.
High Tea is more relaxed and informal than Afternoon Tea and is traditionally enjoyed with one’s family rather than in a social setting. To this day, many in England still refer to their dinner as “Tea”.
“White like the clouds, green like a dream, pure like snow, and as aromatic as an orchid.
This is how ancient Chinese poets described white tea during the Imperial Dynasty. Throughout this time period tea drinking was its own culture; a significant part of this culture was Chinese citizens paying a yearly tribute to the emperor known as the imperial tea.
White tea gets its name from the little white hairs still on the young tea leaves that are harvested before they have fully opened. Theses young leaves are then dried quickly to keep oxidation at a minimum, which results in delicate, fresh, tea. White tea tends to be more expensive than other teas and has a delicate, floral or fruity, aroma. It is also lower in caffeine than green and black teas.
The most popular varieties of white tea are:
Check out our tea catalog to learn more about the white teas we carry or stop by the shop to drink the tea of the ancient Chinese emperors!
The earliest recordings of herbal tea date back as far as ancient Egypt, where mint was found in pyramids, and ancient Chinese texts list using it for medicinal purposes.
Journals belonging to the ancient Greek physician Droscorides, listed over 600 medicinal plants that could be steeped in hot water and drank for their healing properties.
Although most of the world assumes herbal tea is a tea like any other variety, is not officially tea; herbal tea does not come from Camellia sinensis, the plant black, white, oolong, and green teas are all made from. Instead herbal tea is a blend of leaves, fruits, bark, roots, and flowers. While this form of tea was invented to be enjoyed as a drink, for centuries herbal teas were primarily used for their healing abilities. It is only within the last few centuries, that it has become more and more common for people to drink herbal tea simply for enjoyment. However it is still used to invoke calmness and support a healthy mind and body
Herbal tea is perfect for those are sensitive to caffeine as it is naturally caffeine-free. The most common herbal teas are rooibos, mint, chamomile, hibiscus, and rose, below is a chart with each of their health benefits.
Although both China and Taiwan boast originally producing
oolong tea, China does get to claim naming rights. Oolong is
the Chinese word for “black dragon”, the same dragons that
are legend to roam the cool mountainous regions of China
where oolong leaves are grown. The oolongs produced here
are known to be more oxidized, darker in color, and lighter
in flavor than its Taiwanese counterparts. When oolong was
first discovered it was served in a similar fashion to matcha;
the leaves would be grinded into a powder and whisked into the water.
Oolong makes up only 2% of the world’s tea. However, it is vastly popular across Asia, especially China! There are even yearly competitions where local oolong creators compete for best shape, appearance, color, aroma, and taste.
This tea falls in a flavor and color palate between green and black tea. This is created by partially oxidizing, or fermenting, the leave. Oolong leaves are usually rolled, curled, or twisted into tight balls or strands. This process affects the fragrance, appearance, and color of the tea. Oolong’s flavor ranges from floral to grassy and can range in color between green and a dark brown.
Oolong tea contains many vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants that produce numerous health benefits. The two biggest health benefits oolong provides is a metabolism boost and stress reduction.
Elden Street Tea Shop has several different oolongs for you to try. Come in today for a special sale on Go!Go!GojiBerry Oolong – 15% off 8oz and 20% off 16oz or try our new Milk Oolong!
This week, 246 years ago, over $1,000,000 worth of goods was tossed into a harbor. That’s right, this week marks the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party.
In the late 1700's, Britain was in severe debt and decided the solution was to impose multiple taxes on the American colonies. The first tax was the Stamp Act which taxed every piece of paper from newspapers to playing cards. A few years later Britain increased this to the Townshed Acts, taxing necessities such as paint, glass, and tea. At this time the American colonists drank an average of 2 to 3 cups of tea a day. So, as you can imagine, they were not too happy with an increased tax on their tea. But what disgusted the colonists even more was that the British Parliament was imposing all of these taxes without the colonists being represented and having a voice.
In December of 1773 a group of colonists, known as the Sons of Liberty, decided British Parliament was going to hear the voice of the colonists, whether they liked in or not. On the evening of 16th over 100 men dressed up as Native Americans, boarded three ships delivering tea leaves to Boston Harbor. Shouting the phrase “No taxation with representation,” the protesters threw 342 crates of black and green teas, amounting to over $1,000,000 today, into the harbor.
Many people belief the colonists dressed as Native Americans to disguise themselves as members of the local native tribes. However, this unlikely; during that time, it was commonplace for protesters to dress in costume i.e. blackening their faces, dressing as priests, and women to produce a sense on anarchy.
There were also several other tea parties following the Boston Tea Party. Nine days later, in Philadelphia, the captain of a ship bearing tea was threatened to be tarred and feathered if he did not return the tea to England. The following year when a ship carrying tea arrived in Charleston, South Carolina local citizens demanded the merchants who had ordered the tea to toss it in the harbor themselves.
With origins from China black tea is most commonly
grown in India, Sri Lanka, Africa, and China.
Black tea was born in the mid-17th century, when a passing army entered the Fujian province of China and decided to take shelter at a local tea factory. Halting production, the leaves were left out in the sun, oxidizing, longer than normal. This longer oxidation created a new type of tea, black.
Due to the lengthy oxidation process, black tea is able to retain flavor and freshness longer than most other teas. Longer oxidation time also makes the leaves darker, thus leading to the name “black” tea. Black teas’ flavors range from savory to sweet and are known to have stronger, bolder, and richer flavors than green tea.
There is also more caffeine in black tea than green tea. However, black tea contains less caffeine than coffee which means it provides more focus as it does not over stimulate your brain.
Black tea truly rose to popularity in the 1700s, in the American colonies. It is the most common tea drank in Western Culture, the most frequently served as English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Sweet Tea, and Iced tea. Black tea makes up over 90% of the tea sold in the US!
No matter your flavor preference, with over 35 black teas and black tea blends to choose from, Elden Street Tea Shop has the perfect black tea for you!
There are two varieties of Lapsang; smoked and unsmoked, smoked being the most common
Smoked lapsang originated when bandits ransacked and burned a tea making village. Most of the workshops and storage barns were destroyed but the villagers tried to salvage what little tea leaves remained. When the villagers tried the tea, it had an undeniable smoky flavor. Although they feared no one would purchase the tea, they had no choice but to pack it up and try to sell it. To the villagers’ surprise, traders loved it and paid triple what they would have originally paid. Since then, lapsang has remained a favorite in China and around the world.
Known in China as Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong, lapsang is made by laying the leaves out on bamboo mats and fire-drying it over a pinewood fire. Smoking the tea creates an aroma reminiscent of campfires and whiskey. When brewed the tea has a dark glossy appearance with a deep reddish orange color and a sweet mellow taste.
Not only is Lapsang a favorite in China, it is also a favorite of Elden Street Tea Shop's owner! Stop by to try some of our Organic Lapsang Souchong to see what all the buzz is about!!!
1. Tea is better for your overall health; the high levels of antioxidants found in tea help prevent against diseases and delay cell damage.
2. No more sleepless nights! Tea contains less, and sometimes no, caffeine than coffee. Which means it will not stimulate your mind and body as much as a cup of coffee would; equaling a more restful night’s sleep.
3. Stay hydrated! Tea has the advantage, over coffee, of being pure water with added flavor. Tea also contains less caffeine, a natural dehydrator, than coffee.
4. Keep your bones healthy; tea contains high levels of a chemical called catechin. Catechins are natural antioxidants and help promote bone growth.
5. Resist depression; green tea contains a micro-nutrient called polyphenols that act as a natural antidepressant.
1 C water 1 TBSP water
1 tsp Elden Street Tea Shop Ceylon Tea 3 C flour
2 tsp chai spice blend** 1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda ½ tsp salt
¾ C vanilla low-fat yogurt 1 C softened butter
1 C granulated sugar 1 C light brown sugar
5 eggs 1 C confectioners’ sugar
**To make the chai spice blend use equal
parts cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, ground
cloves, and peppercorn.
To access the original recipe, click here.
Rachel Eisenfeld is the owner of Elden Street Tea Shop. She is a fan of Pu'er (poo-air) teas, refreshing and subtle white teas, and any tea mixed with bourbon. Rachel has been to many tea houses on the East Coast, Ireland, and San Franscico. She enjoys learning about the chemical process of making tea and international tea culture. During good times and bad, tea warms the soul.
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