Tea and Coffee with Ceremonies and without Them...
Tea and coffee are the most popular beverages in the world. Today the circle of their lovers becomes wider and wider, that in turn spurs interest in the ways of consuming these beverages in different traditions. In the cultures of the world the importance of tea and coffee long ago ceased to be limited by their gastronomic qualities; they acquired their own philosophy, symbolism, and system of rites and ceremonies. In some societies they got the status of national symbols.
The History of Tea Discovery
The history of tea discovery counts about 5000 years, and in accordance to opinion of many scholars it is linked with China. According to one legend, the Chinese emperor Shen Nung (the first half of the III millennium B.C.) discovered the marvelous invigorative qualities of beverage at hunting, when during his rest the leaves of tea bush fell in boiling water. In course of several millennia the place of tea in the China's culture was controlled at the state level and changed from elite beverage to commonly consumed drink. It was taken in family circle and also in specialized tea houses. Tea taking was accompanied by elaborate and complex ceremonial. The acquaintance of Eurasian peoples with Chinese tea started in X-XIII century A.D., when it entered the culture of Mongols and from them came to the South Siberia region.
Tea in Russia
First time tea appeared in Russia in the early XVII century. In 1638 the Mongolian Altan-Khan Kuchkun in response to the gifts of Russian ambassadors gave the Moscow ambassador Vasily Starkov four poods of tea for the Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich. In our country the broad distribution tea acquired after signing of the Treaty of Nerchinsk in 1689 and the Treaty of Kyakhta in 1727 that regulated political and commercial relations between Russia and China. The Town of Kyakhta located near the border with Mongolia turned into the main center of tea import in Russia. New beverage was considered to be medicine but with time due to its curative, invigorative and taste qualities it firmly entered the everyday diet of many peoples in the country. The tea demand grew so much that it became of most important goods and the caravan route from China to Russia was named the Great Tea Road. From the 1880-ties the way through Kyakhta started to lose its first-rate importance in the Russian tea trade and priority passed to the Trans-Siberian Railway and the sea route through Odessa, where tea was brought from India and Ceylon. In the late XIX century the important landmark in development of tea culture in Russia became experiments of Russian selectionists-amateurs on tea plant growth in South Caucasus on the coasts of the Black and Caspian Seas. In the next century the first results of tea production at industrial level were obtained.
The History of Coffee
According to the Ethiopian legend first time people knew coffee thanks to the herdsman Kaldi who once noticed that consume of green coffee beans gave person exceptional energy all day long. By X century A.D. coffee spread along the Arabian Peninsula, from which it entered Iran, the Asia Minor and Europe, where it became inseparable part of culture, particularly in the city milieu.
In Russia the tradition of coffee drinking came from the other directions: on the one side from the south through Balkans, Crimea and Caucasus and on the other side through the Western Europe, where this beverage came in fashion in XVII century. The first evidence about coffee in Moscovia dates back to 1665 when the court physician Samuel Collins prescribed to the Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, the father of Peter I, the following remedy: "Boiled coffee known to Persians and Turks and to take usually after dinner, this medicine is very good against faints, rhinitides, and headaches." Peter I's visit to Netherlands especially contributed to coffee's popularity in the higher strata of Russian society. In contrast with tea coffee was always imported from abroad, first, from the African continent (the Ethiopian coffee was particularly famous) and since XIX century from South and Central Americas. The largest coffee trade centers were Saint Petersburg and Moscow as well as the port cities: Odessa, Gdansk, and Lodz. In the late XIX century coffee brought to Russia was directed to five largest factories where it was processed.
The peoples, in whose culture traditions of tea and coffee drinking became deeply rooted, gradually elaborated their own ways of preparation and etiquette norms concerning consume of these beverages. The exhibition presents the regional specifics of these traditions among the peoples of Eurasia as well as significance of these beverages in different spheres of life.
Tea in the Culture of Russian People
In everyday culture of Russian people tea was taken both at holidays and working days in tea houses, diners and inns. The exhibition shows the typical interior of provincial diner, where traveler could rest and take tea. Tea was particularly widespread in cities, in countryside it was taken generally the peasants of northern, north-western, and central governorates of the European Russia and also in Siberia.
The development of samovars in Tula and tea-sets production is related to the spreading of tea in Russia. In the middle XIXth century the city of Tula had already 28 samovar factories and there were also the Imperial Porcelain Factory in Saint Petersburg, the S.M Kuznetsov Parthernership for Production of Porcelain and Faience in the village of Dulyovo in the Governorate of Vladimir.In the XIX century samovar became an article of mass consume, but even in the early XX century it remained costly object which peasants passed from generation to generation. Already in the XIX century the Russian samovar became prestigious object of import.
Tea among the Peoples of Volga
Among the peoples of Volga (Tatars Bashkirs, Komi-Permyaks, Mordovians, Mari, Udmurts) the tradition of tea taking was developed everywhere. Tatars, for example, particularly liked black pekoe sorts of tea. They were brewed it very strong and taken hot with milk, sweetmeats and honey. The exhibition presents the scene of home tea party and elements of Tatar house interior, where the hostess prepares and serves tea.
Tea in Siberia
Tea was known on the entire territory of Siberia, but the culture of tea taking was particularly developed among the peoples of South Siberia region (Tuvinians, Altaians, Khakass, Buryats, etc.) who populated the Russian-Chinese border lands. Here the Mongolian tradition of tea making got rooted. It was boiled with milk, salt, mutton fat, served in special high wooden or metal vessels and taken from wooden cups. In Siberia tea was important element not only of daily meal but also of socially important rituals like guest reception, wedding, and cold-meat party. The exhibition presents the scene of guests’ meeting ceremony traditional to this region. Tea was included in offerings to shaman or various spirits and deities. In Central Asia the way of tea making depended on lifestyle. In nomadic societies people preferred the beverage which receipt was similar to that of Turkic and Mongolian peoples of Siberia. The original devices for storage and transportation of tea utensils, especially for fragile porcelain tea bowls displayed at the exhibition as a part of the Kazakh yurt’s interior design, were used. The settled peoples took tea brewed in tea pot with aromatic flavors (clove, fennel, etc.) and sugar. Tea bowls and tea pots used everywhere in the region were made in China or in Russia, especially in the XIX century. Russian factories and plants produced complete series of tableware destined exclusively for the Central Asian market. The scene of women tea party at home in the Oasis of Bukhara recreated at the exhibition features both local and imported utensils.
Tea in the Everyday Culture of Caspian Peoples
The Southern Caspian peoples: Iranians, Azerbaijanis, Tats and Talyshs took tea from glasses and cups served on saucers, for they were accustomed to take it scalding. Tea was brewed in tea pots with mint, thyme and other aromatic flavors and samovars of local or Russian manufacture considered as more prestigious were used. Russian samovars even formed part of ambassador gifts to the Shah of Iran. Special section is dedicated to rich banquet in well-to-do Iranian family where after abundant meal tea taking followed often accompanied with table games.
Tea in the North Caucasus
In the North Caucasus, where infusions of mountain herbs were preferred, tea was an attribute of elite feast. In cities among state officials and functionaries it was taken in “Russian way” and among the majority of city residents and especially in villages (auls) in male companies so called “Kalmyk tea” was consumed which considered more prestigious. The mode of its preparation was similar to one accustomed among South Siberian and Central Asian nomads.
Coffee Making Receipts
In the XIX century two receipts were generally used to make coffee. The first one was traditional for the peoples of Europe, where coarse ground coffee was preferred. It was brewed without sugar and served in porcelain or ceramic coffee pots, the table serving included milk jar and sugar bowl. This variant implied various additions: sugar, milk, sweet cream, whipped whites of the egg, and also alcoholic beverages: brandy, rum, liquors. It was that variant of coffee which was popular in North-West Russia, Baltic countries and Finland both at home and coffee shops. The exhibition presents the interior of the Estonian coffee shop showing the city tradition of coffee drinking as a way of recreation and socializing.
The second receipt required fine ground coffee brewed with sugar or without it in the metal coffee maker, from which coffee was poured in small porcelain or ceramic cups. Such coffee was drunk by some peoples of the Arabian Peninsula, Persian Gulf, South Caucasus, Crimea, the Asia Minor and Balkans. The exhibition presents the scene illustrating street sale of this beverage in the Balkan Peninsula.
Among some peoples, for example Armenians, the etiquette norms required coffee drinking at business negotiations. The exhibition recreates the scene partners’ meeting for whom the spouse of host prepares and serves this beverage.
In different cultures tea and coffee served not only for gastronomical purposes. People attributed to these beverages healing or harmful qualities. They were used in folk medicine or quite contrary could be prohibited. For example, among the some groups of the Old Believers the strictest prohibition to consume tea and coffee existed because these beverages were associated with evil-making forces.
The exhibition “Tea and Coffee with Ceremonies and without Them…” made on the base of the Russian Museum of Ethnography collections reflects the extensive geographical distribution of tea and coffee consume traditions and presents to visitors the cultural diversity of these beverages’ use as well as daily and ritual practices associated with them in life of the Eurasian peoples.