Samovar basically is a metal container used to boil water. The heated water is mostly used for making tea and hence Samovar is generally associated as tea maker. Samovar is used in and around Russia, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, Middle East and in Kashmir. Traditionally charcoal is used to heat the water. Antique samovars are known for their beautiful workmanship. Samovars come in variety of shapes and sizes like cylindrical, spherical, barrel, urn shaped or combination of these shapes.
Description of Samovar-A traditional samovar has a large metallic container in which there is a faucet near the bottom and a metallic pipe which runs vertically through the middle. It has main body of metal container to hold water, a base to stand upon, chimney to hold charcoal fire, a cover with a steam vent, handles to hold and move, faucet for hot water outlet, crown and ring to hold the teapot, chimney extension cap, drip-bowl, and teapot. There will be a tray to keep the samovar, drip-bowl and teapot and if necessary a bowl with charcoal that has become to be appreciated as an art object today.
How Samovar is used-Traditionally samovars are crafted out of bronze, brass or copper. However some samovars are also made with silver, tin, nickel or even with gold. Solid fuel like charcoal fire is used to fill the pipe which heats up the water present in the container. The richness and the aroma of the tea are obtained by preparing a strong concentrate of tea in the teapot over a low temperature. Then as per the personal taste the concentrated tea is diluted with boiled water from the main container before being served.
History of Samovar- In Russia in the mid of 1700’s the first samovar was introduced from Mongolia. When tea was introduced samovars gained popularity as they became accessible source of hot water and for heat from the chilly winters in Russia, Most significantly samovars were the core of cultural Life. In Russia, in the year 1778, the first samovar-making factory was registered by Nazar Lisitsyn. The first documented samovar-makers were the Russians although they were not the inventors of samovar. The various and beautiful samovar designs used by them played a very influential role in the history of samovar-making.
Since the 18th century, the samovars are produced in the city of Tula which has been the main center of production of Russian samovars in Russia. Samovars became the common aspect of the Russian tea culture by the 19th century. There was a large production of Samovars in Russia and they were also exported to different countries. Bullets and arms were made by melting down samovars during periods of war. In times of peace, samovars were made by melting down the swords, bullets, guns and cannons.
Samovar As an art Piece : As each Samovar exhibits the splendid artistic quality of its maker, So does each samovar have a different personality – elegance, cordiality and an inviting friendliness. It can be imagined easily why these attractive Samovars were the prized asserts of so many immigrant families. A key feature of a Russian household was the samovar. In the present era, the samovar is typically related with Russian exotica. In Iran, the samovar culture is very common and emigrants maintain it everywhere. For at least two centuries, samovars have been used in Iran. Presently you can find oil-burning or natural gas-consuming or electrical samovars being used in all places. The art samovars are considered as a part of Iranian art and they are often shown in museums of Iran and Western countries.
How to brew perfect tea by using Samovar :
- Fill the body of the Samovar with water. Make sure to use soft water. Hard water will have mineral particles and they will get deposited in the inner side of the samovar body.
- Once the water gets boiled, place the required quantity of tea leaves into the filter of the teapot.
- Then the teapot should be placed under the Samovar tap and hot water should be poured into the teapot.
- Now the teapot should be placed on top of the Samovar making the pot sit on the ring. Let the tea brew in the simmer of the heat till you get the required concentration.
- Take little quantity of the tea, concentrate in a cup and add required quantity of hot water to get the desired strength of the tea.
YK’s Collection-The Samovar shown in the main picture(At top Left) and bottom right (shown in this paragraph) is from my personal collections. When I was in Iraq in the year 1981, I visited the ancient site of Babylon famous for the hanging gardens, one of the seven wonders of the ancient civilization. Babylon is on the banks of the river Euphrates about 85 kilometers from Baghdad, the capital of present day Iraq. Near the Babylon site there was a small museum and I found the samovar there -only one piece available. After talking to the museum in charge I managed to procure this Samovar with a brass tray, tea pot, and a drain bowl and all can be conveniently placed in the tray. Subsequently I brought the Samovar set to India and is presently available in my house in Hyderabad. It is evident that this samovar was much used and the inside part of the main body where the water is boiled contains hard coating of water scales deposited by hard water.