Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Down Memory Lane with Russian Tea

Russia played an important role during my schools days.Now I did not study in Russia,but in a normal convent run English school in the capital of Kerala -Trivandrum or Thiruvananthapuram as it is now known.

Kerala,one of the communist states in India was heavily influenced by USSR(and not just China) during the late 80's till its disintegration into smaller states.There were several lakhs of fans for Gorbhachev and even advocates of Perestroika and Glasnost.The Indo-USSR relations were at the peak then with several friendship treaties being signed between the two countries and the smiling faces of Gorbhachev was to be seen almost everyday on the tv.We looked up to USSR,as it was a developed country and that too on par with USA.The influence could be seen in kids being named Mikhail,Lenin,Tolstoy and Stalin.

We were exposed to its culture through the literary works of several Russian writers,famous and otherwise,the International film festivals which had several Russian films,magazines like "misha" (thats the name I think),the cultural exchange programs,Russian education especially the medical course which was least expensive,and even the Russian language classes at schools.

Now me being at an impressionable age,thought that a different language for communication added an element of mystery.But being tied up with some other coursework I could not join the language classes and I made it up by getting the alphabets and words from my friends who had joined. I am not sure whether the school started this just to fall in line with the Russian crazed politicos and not the love of the language but whatever it is,these were discontinued within few months or so.

Time flies as always and childhood gave way to teenage and we saw USSR being disintegrated to several independent states.That was the end of the craze atleast for me.Looking back I think except Russian cuisine we were influenced by everything about Russia .So coming to todays post,I found a simple traditional Russian Tea recipe here and have adapted it.As in UK,tea is a tradition in Russia with the tea being warmed throughout the day in samovars(which were also seen in Kerala during the craze though I am not sure whether the resemblence was in name only)

Water: 1 cup
Loose Black Tea Leaves: 1 tsp+

Simple Syrup:
Sugar: 3 tbsp+
Water: 1/2 cup +/- few tbsp
Cloves: 1+
Orange zest

Extra Essentials:
Orange Juice: 1/4 cup +
Lemon Juice: 1-2 tsp

Make tea by boiling water and then adding tea leaves.Boil for a few minutes then allow it to seep and then strain the leaves out.Set aside and keep warm.

Make a simple syrup by boiling the water and sugar to which the cloves and zest has been added.Bring the syrup to a boil,keep on stirring till the sugar dissolves and then continue boiling for 1-2 minutes then remove from heat.Strain and then allow it to cool a bit.

Mix together the strain tea with the strained simple syrup.Add the juice of a small orange (4 tbsp +)and a squeeze of lemon.Keep warm by putting it on low heat but do not boil.

Preferebly serve this orangey tea warm.

On keeping, the orange and spice flavour increases and since the weather was hot I enjoyed it chilled as well.If you are a tea person like me you will love this.

The above rant is just my point of view of things or recollection of events during my school life and in no way specifies my ideologies or principles or anything for that matter.Ofcourse I still treasure my copy of translated Russian folktales and the moth eaten copy of Russian alphabets much to the amusement (and irritation) of my parents.

The orangey tea is my first entry to AWED:Russia at Food for 7 Stages of Life,an event by DK.


Unknown said...

great looking tea !!!

Bombay Foodie said...

I was Misha...my parents subscribed us to that one too, along with another couple of Russian magazines. And I still remember 10-odd words from my Russian classes :)

Priya Suresh said...

Lovely write up Sweatha, Russian tea is completely new for me, am gonna explore this cuisine..

Padmajha said...

Oh yes!I too was fond of Misha and looked forward to each magazine.I had planned to make this tea for AWED but u bet me to it.Tempting tea!!!

Ally said...

a cup of tea that looks intriguing!

AJ said...

Lovely tea!! Its incredibly fragrant.

Unknown said...

nice recipe dear love the lemon and orange flavor in tea....

Unknown said...

Nice post. I find it funny that anyone would think that the USSR was a "developed" country, having spent quite a lot of time there myself. Sure, Moscow and Leningrad were OK, but the entire rest of the country was really, amazingly under developed. But I guess their propaganda was well developed...

I used to like to read Krokodil as a kid, even though it was also very heavy on the politics. Did you ever see that one?

Kiran said...

Delicious looking tea with nice memories of childhoood.

notyet100 said...

tea looks so good,..

Yasmeen said...

Well-written my dear,love the tea :D

Unknown said...

Never knew about such a connection between Kerala and Russia. Tea looks comforting.

Swapna Raghu Sanand said...

More than the tea recipe, what really caught my interest was your description of how the USSR influenced the youths in Kerala at a literary and emotional level at that time. In fact, I too have experienced the same feeling of literary interest and curiosity about the Russian way of life and used to devour the works of Russian writers. I feel sad that today's youths in any part of the country are least interested in these things. I wish we could revive the love for reading because that really brings us closer to the rest of the world.

Great post. Of course, i am a tea lover but I haven't tried the Russian version before so thanks for sharing with us.

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