Samovar (самова́р) is a Russian word that consists of two roots – sam (сам), meaning ‘self’, and var (вар), derived from varit’ (вари́ть), meaning ‘to boil’. It is a metal container used to brew tea. The samovar came to Russia from Persia and the Middle East in the 18th century, and since then it has become the centerpiece of the table in Russian homes. Using the samovar for brewing tea was traditional for old Russia, and the samovar was an important attribute of a Russian household. It was considered to be the symbol of Russian hospitality and the sign of prosperity in a Russian home.
The first Russian samovar was made in 1820 in Tula, an old city on the outskirts of present day Moscow. The city became known as the center of Russian samovar production, and Tula samovars spread throughout the Russian Empire.
Nowadays, many Russians continue to use the samovar for brewing tea; however, in many homes, it has become a decorative item. Varied in sizes and designs, samovars are real works of art. Representing traditional Russian way of life and culture, they make wonderful gifts and souvenirs.