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Tea cultures vary immensely from country to country–and from person to person, too. Everyone likes their cup just a little bit differently. Did you know that in Russia, it’s customary to use jam as a sweetener?

I learned this from a novel I read last winter and promptly became infatuated with it. That’s a thing I do–filch habits from fictional characters, especially food-related ones. In the book, that tea wasn’t offhanded; it was a gesture of kindness from someone who knew the main character wouldn’t have had it in a long time.

Next time you’re brewing a cup of tea, scoop a spoonful of fruit jam while it’s steeping. To keep it traditional, try it with a smoky black tea like lapsang souchong and use strawberry jam. It lends just enough sweetness and a lovely, fruity undertone to the cup. Plus, you’ll to eat bits of fruit when you reach the bottom!


I took this last winter, which means there’s probably jam in that mug.