Yarrow Tea

A little diversion from my usual posting.  Rest assured, I am not starting a food blog. I am thinking about tips for the trip type postings.

This started with an expedition to our local MegaImage grocery store looking for tea. There I found a line of teas produced in Romania so I randomly chose one called Coada-Soricelului.  On returning home, Master Google informed me that it was Yarrow Tea well known for analgesic qualities.  Perfect, as I have been nursing soreness in the knees since Mexico.


When Daughter came out, I told her about my discovery of Yarrow Tea.  She responded, “Oh you mean, Achillea millefolium, used by Achilles warriors to staunch wounds?”

“Umm, yes,” trying to hide my ignorance and sneaking a look farther down the Google page.  For her, the story begins in the summer of 2008 in the back seat of our Honda Accord as we drove around the Eastern US.  She bought an herb dictionary about three inches thick from a bookstore at the University of Purdue, in West Lafayette, Indiana.  Alphabetically Achillea was one of the first entries. I can only guess how many times she read through that book entry by entry.

Looking back at all our photos from that trip, I see none from Purdue nor with her book. The best I found was the banner photo on the border of Maine.  For now, we are doing well as we finish up in Bucharest drinking Yarrow tea, St. Johns Wort tea (Sunatoare – hyperici herba) and Peppermint tea (Ceai de Menta – Menthae Herba).


Rize, the land of Chai: It’s all in the Samovar

Black tea is called Chai in Russia, throughout the Balkans, and throughout Turkey.  In Turkish it is written Çay, in Russian Чай. This is not the Indian spiced milk and tea mixture.  This is the clear tea brewed strong to which hot water is added to cut the bitterness and to serve it piping hot.  The samovar still plays an important part in providing boiling water and keeping the tea warm at the proper temperature.  Even today, tea is served using electric samovars or kettles with the same principal of boiling water maintaining the strong tea at the proper temperature.

I grew up with a samovar that was originally brought from Russia to Windom, Minnesota by Mennonites around 1920.  A traditional samovar must be well ventilated, and usually started outside.  Our samovar in this picture was never used to heat water, but it was tested and would have worked.

Samovar in my basement corner in Edina, MN
Samovar in my basement corner in Edina, MN

We traveled from Trabzon to Batumi, Georgia by way of Rize. This region provides tea for all of Turkey. The banner image of this post shows the tea plantations around the bay on the Black Sea. Considering tea is consumed by the bail, it is amazing that this small region can produce so much.

What really excited me is on our tour of the Sümela Greek monastery near Trabzon,

Sumela Monastery dating from the Fourth Century.
Sumela Monastery dating from the Fourth Century.

we stopped at a shop that was serving tea from a working wood fired Samovar. I really felt right at home here.

Samovar in use on way from Trabzon to Sumela Monastery
Samovar in use on way from Trabzon to Sumela Monastery

Samovars come in many different forms. Here’s a Google search:

Popular Samovars according to Google

Here is a nice photo reposted from Tumblr.


Here are some modern samovars, all based on the same principal of the boiling water keeping the tea at the proper temperature.

Modern Samovars from Ask search
Modern Samovars from Ask search