To the Russian, tea is very important. It’s a huge part of our culture! In Russia tea symbolizes hospitality. And the Russian severe climate assists that. For a long time tea has been helping us to warm up, wake up and feel comfortable wherever we are. Tea became so popular around the early 1700s, and the distinct Russian tea culture emerged. Today you can find a huge variety of tea in the country — black, green, red, herby, fruit and so on. But, historically, mostly Russian people drink black tea. Tea was the subject to talk about, the favorite drink of the wealthy, and even the Russian aristocracy became addicted to tea. Originally tea was served with sugar and jam. Nowadays you can see lemon slices or sweets and food to accompany a tea break in Russia.
Samovar is a Russian word, and it might sound a little bit strange to a foreigner. The first part of the word – “sam” in Russian means self-, “var” came from варить (varit’ = to cook or to boil). So, literally the word “samovar” means a self-boiler. Why samovar became an essential part of the Russian culture? Because it was used to heat and boil water for tea, the beverage which makes us feel better all year long. Samovars are made of metal, they can range in design from very simple to very complicated, but there are some common basic elements. They are a pipe (where the fuel is burned), a body (which surrounds the pipe and holds water) and a valve at the bottom of the body to get water. Also there might be some space on top, which called a warmer. It’s used to keep zavarka warm (zavarka is an extremely strong brew of tea). They pour a little bit of zavarka into a cup, add hot water from the samovar to it and voila, you have got a delicious cup of tea.
Russians consider samovar like a symbol of family, prosperity and comfort. And we know wherever we are in the world, whatever we are doing, we can always find time to make a tea break.
I suggest you to watch the next video about Russian samovar. It is not going to be very easy for you because you will hear lots of archaic words (these words are no longer in everyday use) and Russian sayings but it really reflects the meaning of the Russian samovar for/to our culture. And yet, turn on the subtitles if you are not sure about some words and go through the full script of the video in the attached file. Enjoy!
P.S. It turns out that there are lots of English videos about Russian samovar on the Internet as well. For example, this one. I’ll leave it here because it may help you understand some aspects.