Chifir (Russian: чифи́рь, romanized: čifir', or alternatively, чифи́р) is an exceptionally strong tea, associated with and brewed in Soviet and post-Soviet detention facilities such as gulags and prisons.
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.
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. It is brewed without stirring – at least until the leaves drop to the bottom of the cup. During the brewing process, the leaves start to pour adenine and guanine into the water, which does not happen during traditional tea-making. Sugar is sometimes added; the nature of the brew tends to result in a bitter flavor.
It is to be carefully sipped, otherwise it may cause vomiting. 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.