Tea culture is defined by the way tea is made and consumed, and also by the Art aspect and by how the people interact with tea. Tea is commonly drunk at social events, and many cultures have created intricate formal ceremonies for these events. A Russian tea glass-holder is a traditional way of serving and drinking tea in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, other CIS and ex-USSR countries. Expensive glass holders are traditionally made of silver, classic series are made mostly from nickel silver, cupronickel, and other alloys with nickel, silver or gold plating. In Russia, it is customary to drink tea brewed separately in a teapot and diluted with freshly boiled water. Traditionally, the tea is very strong, its strength often indicating the hosts' degree of hospitality. The traditional implement for boiling water for tea used to be the samovar (and sometimes it still is, though usually electric). The tea glass holder (literally "thing under the glass"), is also a part of Russian tea tradition.
Tea is a family event, and is usually served after each meal with sugar (one to three teaspoonfuls per cup) and lemon (but without milk), and an assortment of jams, pastries and confections. Black tea is commonly used, with green tea gaining popularity as a healthier, more "Oriental" alternative. Teabags are not used in the traditional Russian tea ceremony, only loose, large-leaf black tea. The Russian tea ceremonies started from the event that took place in the year of 1638 when Mongolian ruler visited Russia and brought a very special gift for the Russian Tsar Mikhail. It was a bag of loose tea concentrate. Russian nobility quickly appreciated the exotic taste of the East and since then tea ceremonies were an important part of Russian people’s life.
It is quite normal for Russian to invite a guest for a cup of tea. There are plenty of sweets and different cookies being served with the tea. However, Russians enjoy being around their friends and guests just as much as a tea ceremony itself. Tea is being served along with a cake as a final treat at any Russian family feast. Russians seldom serve tea with milk or cream. Instead, tea is often served with a slice of lemon and honey. In the past times, Russian tea ceremonies were so exciting and bright that many artists were inspired by this culture and produced many beautiful masterpieces in a form of Russian toys, paintings, art and handicrafts.
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