Tea Time in America.
Earlier this summer, I spent a couple of days at an academic gathering in Charleston, South Carolina, where, at some point, the conversation turned to the Russian samovar as one of those things to which, curiously enough, so many American Jewish households lay claim. By rights, we should have been talking about mint juleps; instead, tea had us all riled up.
Tea had those who lived under the Romanovs equally caffeinated. Though its consumption and with it, the samovar, or self-boiler, a metal urnlike contraption fashioned out of silver, brass, copper, or iron, took hold of the Russian body politic only in the 19th century, the practice and the object quickly became central to the nation's identity, even twinned icons of Russianness.
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