Russian's own tea tradition is about the samovar. This was a large decorative urn made from copper or silver. On top of the samovar, a small teapot rested and was kept warm, containing a very strongly brewed concentrate of tea called zavarka. This invention, of Chinese origin, soon came to be recognized as the symbol of Russian hospitality. If unexpected guests were to arrive in a Russian home, they could count on being served tea quickly thereafter.
Tea became available in Russia in the 17th century, brought by the caravans of traders on camels who would make the cross-continent journey from China. This journey took almost an entire year to complete, resulting in tea being quite expensive and only available to the aristocratic class for many years. Everything changed in 1880 when the Siberian Railroad was opened, and the trip could now be done in just two short months. Tea became widely available, and was embraced by all social classes.
Russian tastes in tea are quite unique compared to other countries. The concentrated tea found in the samovar’s teapot can be green, but is more often black tea from India or Sri Lanka. Russians will often use a blend of teas which has been smoked to varying degrees. The preference for smokey tea would seem an odd combination with sweets, but the traditional way of drinking tea in Russia is to sip the tea through a sugar cube in the mouth, or by stirring a spoon of homemade jam into the cup before drinking.