Have you ever heard of Russian Tea?

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  • Post by  Katie Panara Jul 12, 2021

Good morning, tea loves! Although it has been dreary and muggy thus far this week, and that seems to be what is expected for the rest of the week, stay with us and remain hopeful as I have a new drink to introduce to you today! Due to the humidity, I have been scouring my resources for any new, cool drink that would keep both you and me not panting like my dog. Hint, hint... I think I found it! I discovered a drink known as Russian Tea that has been brewed for centuries with black teas and additives and is loved by so many! It is akin to southern sweet tea and while it is traditionally served warm (Something warm for Russia? Who would have thought? ), I find that this specialty drink is something quite spectacular served cold as well! Check out the rest of this post to learn more on the background of this tea, some recommendations we have for which black teas to use in it, and the full recipe so that you can whip it up today! 

As you can probably guess, this drink originated in Russia dating all the way back to the early 1800s. It was traditionally composed of black tea with lemon and sugar, orange and pineapple juices, cinnamon, clove, honey, and lemon or orange wedges for garnish. It was typically afforded only by the elite at this time and enjoyed during the cold of winter as a way to warm up. Quickly though, as is such with most practices, the middle and lower classes began to want this tea as well, and it became ingrained in society as a whole just as southern sweet tea is here in America. As it became more and more widespread, the recipe for this tea began to change and integrate different ingredients. Nowadays, when you do a quick search on recipes for this drink, you will regularly see ingredients including things like Tang powdered orange drink, powdered lemonade, and heaven forbid... instant powdered tea! In this tea shop, using tea powder would be the equivalent of using a swear word! We can't condone such things!

While these powdered drinks certainly hold a place when it comes to convenience and everyone's favorite neighborhood lemonade stand, at Good Life Tea, when we make Russian Tea, we like to use fresh ingredients. Let's start with the primary ingredient, tea. This recipe calls for black tea as a base and we have a variety of different luxury loose leaf black teas to fit the bill here. To keep your flavor profile simple and really highlight or feature the additives more, we suggest our Ceylon black tea. This delicious and crisp black tea is the base upon which many of our flavored teas are built upon and it would be a lovely tea to start your summer Russian tea. What makes this black tea option even more appealing is that we carry a Decaf Ceylon as well! If you are looking to enjoy a glass of chilled Russian tea into the evening, perhaps you brew this blend instead and avoid that pesky caffeine induced insomnia. 
Another tea that complements the flavors present in Russian tea is our beloved Hot Cinnamon Spice. The flavors of cinnamon, clove, and citrus that already make this our most popular tea will only be enhanced when you add the remaining ingredients of your Russian Tea. The more subtle tanginess of orange will be brought to light in adding lemon, orange juice, and pineapple juice. If you choose to use this tea in making your Russian Tea, I recommend going a bit lighter on the clove and cinnamon components as these are already so strong and evident within the tea and they may become too strong or override the citrus factors that are such a delight. I also recommend adding a bit more honey if you are like me and have a sweet tooth! Adding just a bit more honey makes this iced tea so unbelievably smooth across your tongue. Also, just as with the Ceylon, if you want to enjoy this brew into the evening hours, we have a Decaf Black Hot Cinnamon Spice that allows you to do so!
In writing this blog featuring the drink Russian Tea, it would be almost ridiculous that I not suggest our black Russian Country tea as a base here. This black tea is smoky and smoldering. Its flavors are analogous to that of our Lapsang Souchong and it is described on our website as almost "pipe-ready". The smokiness that you taste in this tea will remind you of the deep breaths that you inhale around a summer campfire. This will be a lovely complement to the citrus and sweet remaining ingredients of Russian Tea. Should you choose this tea to start with, I, again, recommend a bit of extra honey. It adds just the right amount of sweetness and makes the last sip of your drink irresistible!

   

Below I have included the full recipe for Russian Tea (serves 4):

Ingredients:
- 4 cups of brewed tea of your choice
(Ceylon (Decaf), Hot Cinnamon Spice (Decaf), Russian Country, Lapsang Souchong, Decaf Orange, Keemun Panda #1, etc) **The ones mentioned here that I did not detail above are other recommendations that I found for making Russian Tea when doing my research**
- 1 cinnamon stick or 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 2 whole cloves or 1 teaspoon of ground cloves
- 2 tablespoons of honey (or 3 if you are like me!)
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 cup pineapple juice 
- lemon and orange wedges for garnish 
Instructions:
1. Bring the water to a near boil and steep the tea, cinnamon, and cloves in the hot water for 5 minutes.
2. Discard the tea and spices using an infuser.
3. Add the honey to the boiling water and stir to combine well.
4. Finally, add in the orange and pineapple juice. Taste and add more honey if desired.
5. Chill and pour over ice with an orange or lemon wedge to serve.

This is an absolutely delicious and refreshing treat during these hot and muggy days and I highly recommend that you give it a try! It may become your new summer go-to! In reading about this tea, I also found that "Russian Tea connoisseurs" regularly went on to add a bit of spiced rum or whiskey to this concoction in the evenings. They wrote of it being decadent and the perfect night cap to cool down on a summer night. When you inevitably do venture to make up this tea, let us know which of our black teas you chose to use as your base and if you added your own flare in any way with different extras! I can't wait to hear from you all and I hope that you are staying cool, calm, and collected! Have a wonderful week and happy sipping! - Kaytea :)