The cuisine of Estonian Old Believers is very simple and tasteful. Home-made, simple food brings us back to the roots and beholds the tastes of legacy. Mostly are used fish, onion, potatoe, buckwheat and different pastry like pies and cakes. Of course, there are blinis, conserves and boiled sugar (Old Believers sweets), which is put into cheek when drinking tea.
Ivan Tea (Ivan Chai)
Tea of fireweed is known as Ivan Tea. It is produced in the same way as black tea. The leaves of fireweed are fermented, then rubbed and dried. Old-believers use Ivan Tea for every illness – physical or mental.
Ivan Tea has been known in Russia more than ten centuries, in Tsarian days it was used instead of Chinese tea. Later Ivan Tea became one of the most important export goods of Russia.
Fireweed is very efficient against tumors, gastritis, colic, stomach ulcer and cures prostate disorders.
Chicory is best known as replacement substance of coffee and digestion enhancer. The root is collected in autumn, september to october. Washed roots are chopped and dried at temperature 50–60 °C. Leaves and herbs are collected during blooming. The top of the plant with blossom and leaves is cut off approximately 15 cm and it is dired at temperature 40–50 °C.
Nowadays chicory is used in medicine against lack of appetite and digestion problems. Roots of chicory increase appetite, enhance digestion and creation of gall. Infusion of leaves and root helps against podagra, rheumatism and hemorrhoid. Tea of chicory blossom is used in Estonian folk medicine as laxative aid.
Bloodroot (Potentilla erecta)
The most important part is its root, which is a known medical plant. Root is collected in early spring or autumn. Roots are digged up, washed from soil and cut into pieces. It can be dried in electrical drier, attic or shade, indoors can be put as a thin layer on the tabel. Spoils rearly, as it contains tannin in big amount. Dried roots are kept for 5 years in fabric bag.
Contemporary medicine uses Potentilla erecta to stop bleeding, against inflammation and as analgesic and tranquilizer. The herb is used to heal intestinal tract, ulcer, pneumonia and cough.
Growing of onion started to develop in Peipsi are in the middle of 19th century, when local people started to grow onion type bred in Bessonovka village Penza region of Russia. That onion sort adapted here well and started to give in local conditions big and stable harvest.
Growing technique of Peipsi onion is part of the heritage culture. Onion is grown in high planting beds, as onion does not want exess water, but moisture. As the coastal area of Peipsi is an old lake bottom with high groundwater, the high planting beds provide the best growing conditions.
Peipsi onion is bitter tasted, but contains also much sugars, which help to preserve the onion. Properly dried onion can be kept in room conditions until new harvest.
Old Believers’ sweets – boiled sugar
A piece of sweet boiled of cream and sugar is put into cheek and then the tea is sipped. Tea is drinked as long as the sugar is in the cheek. If sugar runs out, a new one is put into cheek and the whole process repeats.
It is not exactly known, when the boiled sugar was first made, but it is associated with local belief, that sugar boiled with milk is more useful than regular white sugar. The history goes back at least hundred of years. When English black tea started to become more popular as a regular drink instead of Russian Ivan tea, locals started boil sugar with cream. To them black tea was too bitter and they needed something sweet to dring it up.