Ivan-tea history

Foreigners used to call the beverage made of the willow-herb flowers and leaves Russian miracle, but we usually call it Ivan-tea. It is not only flavored, tasty and quenching, but also sanative. For example, it has positive effect on gastrointestinal tract and organism in whole, and like valerian has sedative, but not intoxicating effect during neuroses, insomnia and headaches. It also works as antioxidant and cleanses the body.

100 grams of Ivan-tea leaves contain from 200 to 400 mg of ascorbic acid, which is 5-6 times more than in lemons, 3 times more than in oranges. Only black currant berries contain the same amount of ascorbic acid.

Russian tea and Ivan-tea tradition have more than 700-year history and start from the period of Alexander Nevsky conquests. The great prince Dmitry founded the stone town on the place of Koporye fortress that Alexander Nevsky conquered from the knights of Livonian Order. Slavic settlers brought the tradition of Ivan-tea planting and use. Afterwards the Koporye became the “world manufacture” of traditional Russian beverage production.

Traditional Ivan-tea was first mentioned as the drink of warriors in Novgorod chronicles dated back to 13th century (for example, in the first Sophia chronicle) that describe brave deeds and battles of Alexander Yaroslavovich. The production of willow-herb tea started there from 12080. Old chronicles also refer to this tea as to “Warriors’ tea” or “Boyars’ and gentlemen of the cloth”. Europeans referred to this beverage just as “Russian tea”.

In the beginning of 18th century Koporye was so popular because of the Slavic tea production that it was mentioned in the Great British Encyclopedia. 

In the second half of 19th century Ivan-tea was the second most popular exported production. The rhubarb took the first place amongst exported products; hemp was the third and furs – fourth. There were already willow-herb manufactures in three Saint-Petersburg counties by that time.

Russian Emperor personally issued the manufacture and sell license to the Saint Petersburg governor so that he could export tea to Great Britain. Ivan-tea was also exported to Prussia, Denmark and France.

The most recent archaeological finds (Kargalinsk excavations, Chicha and Arkaim) prove that the Slavic culture of pre-Christian times was developed on the high level, and not only in the crop and sanitary plants field, but in all the other spheres as well. That is why Russian tea tradition may be even older and begin thousands years ago. Independent development of Russian and Chinese tea traditions only proves this hypothesis.

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