Pleasures of the Learned in Eighteenth-Century Ukraine: The Culture of Tea, Coffee, and Wine Consumption of the Church Elite


  • Maksym Iaremenko National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy



The history of stimulants and pleasurable ceremonies in Ukraine of early modern times has hardly been investigated. This article provides an overview of tea, coffee, and wine culture among representatives of the eighteenth-century church elite in the Kyiv Metropoly (subsumed as a synodal entity by the Russian Orthodox Church since 1686). The favour accorded these beverages is indicated in inventories of goods belonging to members of this social micro-group that list virtually an entire spectrum of accoutrements, locally made as well as imported (including table services from China and Germany). Although wine and coffee were already consumed in Ukrainian territories, the clergy’s passion for various kinds of tea was sparked only around 1730, when it took consumers by storm throughout the Russian Empire. As medicinal ingredients, all three beverages were also mentioned in medical guides that were used in the Hetmanate at that time. Given that their cost, especially that of tea, was beyond what most could afford, drinking tea, coffee, and expensive wine became a mark of high status.

Representatives of the church elite in Russian-ruled Ukraine were able to participated indirectly in the contemporary tea, coffee, and wine culture thanks to their education. In the eighteenth century, being educated assured clerics of a successful career. By the same token, rising to the higher ecclesiastical ranks prompted changes in their day-to-day habits and provided them material possibilities to conform to high-status consumption behaviours.


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Author Biography

Maksym Iaremenko, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy

Associate Professor, Department of History