I gave myself a present today, actually I gave myself two presents. I just got home after a long and busy day. I had to make some final decisions around flooring, paint and other items for my water damaged house, and had several things to do this evening. My kitchen situation remains difficult so my options among the many recipes in the 1906 Berlin Cook Book are limited. I don’t have a stove, or access to most of my kitchen equipment or foodstuffs. I decided to treat myself to a special cup of tea by selecting an anonymous recipe for Two Kinds of Russian Tea. The first present to myself was to open a container of tea I’d intended to give as a gift. It is called Victorian Tea. My second present was to make the second suggested version of Russian Tea since it contains rum. I rarely drink but I did have a small bottle stored under the sink in the kitchenette. I was able to unearth an electric kettle to boil the water. I also had some sugar in a sugar bowl in a cupboard with a teacup and a teaspoon. The only part of the recipe I didn’t have was cream. Authenticity prevailed in my use of loose leaf tea, Governors rum, cup and spoon, and sugar but failed in the use of an electric kettle and no cream.
I boiled the water, and poured it over a teaspoon of tea leaves in the cup. I let it steep before spooning out most of the leaves. Yes, I should have been using a teapot but finding one was just too much of a challenge tonight. Yes, I could have left the leaves and spent sometime reading my fortune but I’m not sure I really want to see the future. I’ll let you guess whether it was one or two teaspoons of rum in my cup. I added a teaspoon of sugar and stirred before sampling.
I wonder why is it called Russian Tea? Who served Russian tea? Was this a solitary beverage or was it served as part of a social gathering? Is it intended for a gentleman or a lady? This is the era of temperance societies and campaigns against demon rum. The efforts to ban alcohol or at least promote abstinence from all alcoholic beverages was a heart-felt attempt by women to solve some of the problems in society. Women’s groups in the Methodist and Presbyterian denominations were particularly active in this movement. The inclusion of a number of alcohol based drink recipes in the Berlin Cook Book help narrow down the possible organizations responsible for it. Generally people in Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran churches were not part of the temperance groups.
I don’t know if the cream would add anything as my cup of tea was certainly “a pleasing drink”. It is more suited to a cold winter day after outdoor exercise than a hot summer evening before bed but I enjoyed it anyway. I have had tea with lemon so I suppose I’ve also come close to tasting the other version of Russian Tea mentioned in this recipe. It is much more suited to a hot summer day. I’ll try it when I have lemons again. I’ve been offered the use of a kitchen for tomorrows recipe so it should be a little more exciting than a cup of tea.
UPDATE: It is probably a good thing I didn’t check my fortune. I had to deal with a bat in my house a little later. I captured the lost little bat and set it free outside in hopes it will not find its way inside again.
TWO KINDS OF RUSSIAN TEA
Peel and slice good juicy lemons, and lay a slice in each cup, pour hot tea over it and add sugar. Do not use cream.
When serving ordinary good tea, add 1 or 2 teaspoons of rum, as person desires, use both cream and sugar. This makes a pleasing drink.