This can be as simple as adding a spoonful of strawberry jam to a cup of black tea. However, if you have an abundance of fresh strawberries and some time, invite a few friends over and make this simple strawberry jam. Then, steep a strong pot of tea, invoke Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky and the bucolic bliss of the Russian countryside in the summer. Then, sit a while together over cups of sweet tea and conversation.
The Russian tradition of sitting by the samovar is about community and connection. Much like sharing a bombilla of Yerba Mate in Argentina, a loaf of bread at communion or a Native American peace pipe, the act of partaking from a communal pot, loaf or pipe creates unity and a chance to relax with friends.
The samovar, a large and decorative self-boiling tea maker, is a cultural centerpiece of Russian culture, like the gongfucha tea table is across China. A pot of strong tea concentrate is kept hot on top and then diluted to one’s taste with hot water from the spigot below. Samovars were once kept warm by an internal well for hot coals. Today, electric samovars are more commonly used.
Sugar and, in this case, jam, is served to sweeten up the tea. Pair this tea with our rhubarb vanilla coffee cake from Finland, smoked fish and dill sandwiches on rye bread and gingerbread cookies for a summer afternoon tea from the Northern Baltic forests.
You will need:
One cup of strawberries, cleaned and chopped.
Half a cup of sugar
4 Tablespoons of black tea (use a Chinese black or a breakfast tea like Firepot Breakfast)
Heat the berries until they com to a hard boil, stirring continuously for 3-5 minutes.
Spoon jam into a glass jar and cool to room temperature. Keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
Steep tea in 3 cups of boiling water for 5 minutes. Strain into a tea pot. Serve with strawberry jam and an extra pot of hot tea so everyone can sweeten and dilute to their taste.