Russian tea biscuits are about as Russian as hot dogs and ketchup. This startling fact came to me courtesy of my Russian born friend Tatayana Rehn, co-owner of The Stone Oven Bakery and Cafe . She makes and sells wonderful tea biscuits- I am especially partial to the poppy seed variety- but insists that the pastries are not and never have been eaten back in the old country. Their name is a mystery to her. Maybe, she speculated when we spoke about the question recently, it’s because the classic version has a raspberry filling and that’s the fuit of choice (and all that’s usually available) for jam in Russia.
My thought- they’re big pastries, Russia is a big country- perhaps there’s a connection. On the other hand, using that reasoning why don’t we call them Texas Tea Biscuits which has a more appealing alliterative ring?
Curious, I turned to the internet for an answer and much to my surprise there was none to be found. In fact someone from Cleveland went on a similar quest back in 2006 and posted about it on an eGullet forum. Like me, he too seems to have come up empty handed when he tried to research the topic himself. And in a further layer of intrigue, the search term Russian tea biscuit brings up a number of Cleveland links.
So now in addition to wanting to know how Russian tea biscuits got their name, I’m wondering if they are a local, Cleveland thing. Who can shed some light on this culinary conundrum? Does anyone out there know anything about this?