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How Russia Was Introduced to Tea – Part 1

August 10, 2007


Here is a bit of Russian Tea History(stay tuned for more):

Sometime in the mid-1600s, the Mogual emperor of north India had a guest. The guest was a Russian ambassador from his royal counterpart, the head and founder of the Russian Romanov dynasty, Czar Michael Romanov. During the visit the emperor introduced the ambassador to the delicious tea that was popular in India (now Pakistan, Afghanistan, and nearby regions). The emperor offered to send a quantity to the Czar as a gift, but the ambassador declined on the Czar’s behalf, thinking the Czar would have no use for it.

Many years passed until finally, in 1689, Russia in the most natural way − through trade-became business partners with China when they established a boundary between their countries. The treaty defining it made it clear that all trade between the two nations would occur at a single spot in the open spaces of the Gobi. The chosen location, Usk Kayakhta, was one thousand miles from Beijing and more than four thousand miles from St. Petersburg.

Originally Russian caravans arrived at nearby outposts to trade furs for Chinese cotton and silk, but over time they began to buy tea more than anything. It’s been estimated that Russians were receiving over 600 pounds of tea per camel and over 600 camel loads every year by 1735. That’s 360,000 pounds of tea!

Who was drinking all of that dark, delicious expensive brew?

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