"he brought in a boiling samovar"

 A samovar is a kind of container used for heating water. It plays an important part in Russian life. Samovars are made out of metal, and are often decorated. Extremely strong tea is brewed in a teapot then poured into a cup; hot water is then added from the tap on the samovar to dilute the tea to the desired strength. Often samovars have a teapot stand on top to keep the teapot warm. They are traditionally heated with charcoal or coal, although modern samovars use electricity.

Samovars are used across Russia, Central Asia and the Middle East, in countries with strong tea-drinking traditions. Russia's traditional tea is called 'Russian Caravan', a type of black tea. It was carried across Central Asia in merchant caravans, and their evening campfires imbued the tea with a distinctive smoky taste. Nowadays this flavour is usually achieved by mixing small amounts of Lapsang Souchon into the blend.

Stock up on Russian Caravan tea here at the brilliant Wiltshire Tea Company.