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Russian Culture: Drinking Tea

A USSR stamp,
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When American and Western people think of Russians and their drinking habits, 9 out of 10 people immediately think “vodka”. Many are surprised to find out that Russians are very passionate about tea-drinking and are drinking more tea than British people. So if you go to Russia to visit your Russian bride, expect to have a lot of tea with her, her family and her friends.

Tea was brought to Russia from China in the 17th century and since then Russian people fell in love with this drink. Believe it or not, tea is the most popular beverage in the country and is closely associated with Russian traditions and culture.

Many Russians still use Samovar (a metal urn with a spigot at the base) to boil water and brew tea. So if you see a strange looking urn-shaped object on your Russian bride’s table, don’t freak out. It is just samovar. Make sure you show her your knowledge on Russian culture and tell her what you know about Russian’s tea drinking habits.

When Russians drink tea, they are rarely having just tea. No, I have to disappoint you; they don’t add vodka to it. If someone invites you to drink tea, expect to have some kind of pastry, cake or appetizers with it.

Also, if somebody invited you for “tea”, it is a good idea to bring something with you. A cake or a box of chocolates will do. It is expected that you bring something, so impress your Russian bride with your knowledge of customs and traditions. If both of you are going to visit her friends for “tea”, tell her that you would like to buy something for the hosts. It is expected that you do that. Also, remember that she expects that you pay for it. Feminism is not appreciated in the Russian culture, so Russian women expect that man always pays for them.

If you don’t like tea, unfortunately, you have to suck it up and drink it anyway. If you refuse to have tea, it will show lack of respect to the hosts. Make sure you finish it also. Good manners are crucial when you are dating a Russian lady.

Relax, you will not have to drink tea all your life if you get married to a Russian. She will never force you and she will not get offended if you don’t like tea (after you are married or if you’ve been dating for a long time). But remember that teas have many health benefits, so it is not a bad idea to start a new habit.

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5 Comments so far

  1. Phil on August 2nd, 2009

    I always thought Russians were coffee drinkers, not tea.

  2. Jay K. on August 10th, 2009

    I drank so much tea when I went to visit my girlfriend in Ukraine.

  3. Russian Wife on August 22nd, 2009

    We drink coffee as well, but probably not as much as tea.

  4. Anonymous on March 20th, 2010

    Russians prefer tea, poor quality, without milk. And also cheap quality sweets and chocolates. They like salami with lots of butter on small, thin pieces of bread and salmon with the same. Be very afraid of being honest with them, too. They don’t like it! Take off your shoes before entering a flat, and don’t comment on how awful the entrance, stairwell and lift is and how it may make you feel sick! Don’t talk about how Putin and Medvedev have stifled free speech and never expect Russians to become easier to understand the longer you know them, as the opposite is often true!

  5. Russian Wife on March 20th, 2010

    Yeah. One of many things which I don’t miss is stairwells. Oh and the elevators too.

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