The Podstakannik: A Traditional Tea Glass Holder in Russia

The podstakannik, also known as a tea glass holder, is a metal holder with a handle used to hold a drinking glass (stakan) in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and other Slavic states. Its primary function is to hold a very hot glass of tea, which is typically consumed right after brewing. The podstakannik also provides better stability for the glass on the table.

History of Podstakanniks

Podstakanniks first appeared in the late 18th century when drinking tea became popular in Russia. They quickly evolved from practical utensils to works of art, much like the samovars used for boiling water. Expensive podstakanniks made of silver were created for the elite; however, they were not practical due to the high thermal conductivity of silver. By the 20th century, podstakanniks became more widespread and were found to be extremely useful on railroads where tea was served in moving carriages.

Production and Usage

During the Soviet Union era, podstakanniks were mainly made from nickel silver, cupronickel, and other alloys with nickel, silver, or gold plating. Nowadays, Russians typically use simple tea cups or mugs at home, but podstakanniks are still widely used on the Russian Railways. The glass holders provide more safety while drinking or carrying tea on a moving train.

Most podstakanniks are produced by the Kolchug-Mizar plant located in Vladimir Oblast. These holders often depict architecture, famous people, famous dates in history, cities, and other symbols that represent Russian and Soviet history.

Similar tea glass holders can sometimes be found in the West, but they are usually much simpler in design and made of stainless steel bent wire or plastic materials. Overall, the podstakannik remains a significant part of traditional tea culture in Russia and other Slavic states.

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