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If you walked up to a Russian person today and told him or her that a Russian Czar turned down the gift of massive amounts of tea that China sent to him as a good will gift in the 1600's because he considered tea to be a worthless gift, you'd probably leave the person you were talking to speechless. While Russians today love tea as passionately as they love a good bottle of vodka, this wasn't always the case.
Luckily, by the end of the 17th century, Russia had come to realize how marvelous this beverage is and actually created a treaty with China just to protect its access to tea. By the early 1800's, tea was definitely an important part of most Russians' lives. China could barely keep up with the increasing demand for tea. After all, it wasn't a matter of packing a few crates on a ship or a plane and sending them on their way. Delivering tea during this era meant a long journey by camel through very inhospitable conditions.
As they enjoyed their new beverage, Russians developed a way to prepare and drink tea that worked well in their cold climate. This method, which was created during the 1800's, is still popular today. To prepare tea the Russian way, you make a tea concentrate, which is then diluted with water that has been heated in a special pot called a samovar.