In our kitchen, we have, of course, a coffee pot. But it pales in comparison next to the splendid, archaic glory of the Samovar. It's a gleaming chrome-and-brass contraption with ornate, spiralling handles, burbling steam fonts, and crowned by a magnificent china tea-pot, adorned with the scowling faces of (what I assume to be) Russian Czars in Napoleonic uniform, replete with red sashes, jewel-encrusted star shaped decorations, and plenty of ribbon.
I was quite perplexed by this amazing device, and intimidated by its Imperial majesty, until one of the Russians explained it to me. I'd been, foolishly, drinking tea straight from the pot and thinking, "Dang, these Russians like their tea as strong as the East German women's weightlifting team!" But of course, I was doing it all wrong. You see, one is only supposed to fill a third of their cup with the tea from the pot, and then the rest of the way with hot water from the Samovar. Steam from the boiling water is vented out the top of the Samovar to keep the teapot warm, but because the tea is so strong, it need not be a particularly large pot, thus allowing the efficient exchange of heat.
Most of the people here drink tea, so as a result, the tea they've invested is really good tea. I'm slowly being beguiled away from the dark magnificence of coffee, and brought over to the tea side. In combination with the ginger chews that I've brought in to my desk, it makes for a uniquely cozy experience. I imagine being ensconced in some some windowed dome of the Kremlin, warmed by the tea, by the happy burbling of the Samovar, and of course, by servants keeping brass braziers good and hot - while looking out over the wicked and wintry landscape that was about to swallow Napoleon's Grand Army whole.
A lot of stuff happens in my head that's much more interesting than what's actually going on, doesn't it?