Preparation of chifir in an enamel mug

Chifir (Russian: чифи́рь, romanizedčifir', or alternatively, чифи́р) is an exceptionally strong tea, associated with and brewed in Soviet and post-Soviet detention facilities such as gulags and prisons.

Some sources mention properties of a light drug, causing addiction.


The etymology is uncertain but is thought to come from the word chikhir' (чихирь) meaning a strong Caucasian wine, or a Siberian word for wine that has gone off and become sour and acidic.[1]


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Chifir is typically prepared with 5–8 tablespoons (50–100 ml) of loose tea (or tea bags) per person poured on top of the boiled water.[citation needed] It is brewed without stirring – at least until the leaves drop to the bottom of the cup.[citation needed] During the brewing process, the leaves start to release adenine and guanine into the water, which does not happen during traditional tea-making.[citation needed] Sugar is sometimes added; the nature of the brew tends to result in a bitter flavor.[2]

It is to be carefully sipped, otherwise it may cause vomiting.[citation needed] Ultimately, making chifir involves brewing a great deal of black tea and for a long time. It may be left to brew overnight and drunk either hot or cold.

In popular culture

See also


  1. ^ Чифирь (in Russian)
  2. ^ Чай, чифирь, купец (in Russian)