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Russian handicrafts series Part 5: Samovar

05-14-2012 17:36 BJT

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Russian people’s daily lives changed in the 17th century, when tea began to be imported from China. This not only resulted in a unique culture around the brew, but led to a unique invention - The samovar. Wang Ying has more.

Tula has a history of 866 years. Apart from being the hometown of Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, the city is best known as the center of samovar production. Traditionally used to boil water for

tea, the device is one of Russia’s earliest home appliances.

Natasha, a Tula resident says, "When I was young, we used it in the villa. When grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts got together, we would use it for boiling water and brewing tea.

In the 17th century, Peter the Great, influenced by western traditions, introduced tea to the Russian nobility. The fashion spread quickly among the common folk.

Lyudmila Britenkova, the deputy director of Russian State Samovar Museum says, "China was the main tea supplier since the end of the 17th century and early of the 18th century. Tea was transported from border cities. The rich bought tea with flower fragrances, called Conscience Tea. It was one of the best.

During this time the samovar was invented. Made mostly from nickel and copper, it’s always been the details that made the difference.

Lyudmila Britenkova says,"There is a samovar, with the abbreviation of the owner’s name on it. The name is Sitnikov. It’s our tradition. The rich usually do this. And there is the signature.

In Russia, the first samovar factory was founded in Tula in 1878 and put out about 3000 pieces yearly. Production reached its peak in the early 20th century, when annual output in the city reached 660 thousand.

Many samovars are displayed in this museum. This one is for exhibition. The biggest one here for daily use is this one. It could hold about 70 liters of water. And this is the smallest one

here. It was produced in 1996, to commemorate the 850th anniversary of the founding of Tula city. It can contain only three drops of water.

The samovar consists of a large urn-shaped container with a metal pipe running vertically through the middle. To boil the water inside a samovar, the pipe is filled with solid fuel like wood

chips. The tea is served by pouring tea concentrate into a cup and diluting it with the boiled water.

Natasha says, The samovar is the center of our family. We sit down together, having a conversation, and sharing each other’s memories and dreams. We speak our minds freely, and we feel so close to each other.

In Russia, tea time does not simply mean a cup of tea, or sweets, or biscuits, or cakes. It’s about sitting down with friends and family members, talking with each other, and enjoying a good

time. Such a scene was depicted by Alexander Pushkin in Eugene Onegin, more than one hundred years ago.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: CNTV.CN

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