Sbiten – a Russian Style Tea

I was looking for Russian recipes to make for AWED – Russia, and luckily I had Mark Bittman’s ‘The Best Recipes in the World’, and I picked two recipes from the book as inspirations to create a Russian tea yesterday. What is AWED?? I was curious too, it stands for ‘A Worldly Epicureans delight’. Its an event started by DK of ChefInYou, and explores a particular cuisine in the world every month. And this week, the tour stops at Russia.

My Russian Tea is served with a snack – Syrniki and a hot drink – Sbiten.


Sbiten is an ancient wintertime drink of Russia that is drunk to ward off the winter chills. It is a very simple drink usually made by mixing honey and water with spices and jam. It is brewed and kept hot in huge boiler type urns called Samovar, and served hot with or without mixing with Vodka.

I served it just like our very own Masala Chai, and it tasted oddly similar. That is one of the joys of learning other cuisines of the world, is that it makes that connection and makes you feel like you know them almost.


2 cups water

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp honey

1 clove

2 cardamom pods

4 slices of fresh ginger

1 cinnamon stick

1 tsp of orange zest

2 tsp of chopped fresh mint leaves


Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan with a lid over medium heat. Bring almost to a boil. It is usually made with lemon zest, but I had orange on hand, and I substituted it.

Cover and turn off the heat; steep for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain, then reheat an serve. Or refrigerate, covered for a couple of days and reheat and serve.

Verdict: It tasted warm and spicy and fruity. My husband liked it very much, he said it was on par with a tea that we really like in one our local teashops called Teavana. For me, it a little bit too sweet. Next time, I would cut back on the sugar. With Seattle, still struggling to see Summer weather, this is one drink that would warm your soul. 🙂

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  1. Stareek

    BTW Sbiten is pronounced as Sbeeten [sbi:ten] with special russian soft N on the end.
    And it isn’t a “russian style tea”. Sbiten is a special drink, hardly mixed with a tea.
    Also, russian style tea is just a black tea with sugar and lemon in a glass with a special “underglass” (podstak’annik) device (

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