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EURASIAN COOKBOOK  / TARKHUN
01.07.2011


This article was published as part of SRAS's free monthly newsletter. Want the newsletter?


  Tarkhun Ядовито-зеленый напиток "Тархун" – это ностальгический вкус детства, огромные конусы-сифоны в гулких магазинах "Соки-воды", дни рождения одноклассников, семейные выезды на природу. "Тархун", ярким пятном в прямом и переносном смысле выделявшийся на фоне "дюшесов", "буратино" и "байкалов", был зарегистрирован в 1971 году.
- Text: Eda.ru
- Photo: Weird Food Club

Tarkhun
Russia's "Spicy" Drink
By Michael Smeltzer
with
Andrei Nesterov

Jump to: recipes; videos; study abroad!

Тархун (Tarkhun) is a carbonated soft drink flavored with tarragon leaves. The drink is typically known for its distinctive bright green color and is especially popular in Russia and the Caucasus.

For many Russian people, тархун is associated with the time of the Soviet Union. After its mass production started in the later Soviet era, this drink became exceptionally popular throughout the USSR. However, тархун was first concocted, like most western sodas, by a pharmacist at the turn of the 1900s. Mitrofan Lagidze, a Georgian, first mixed carbonated water with his original tarragon syrup in his Tbilisi pharmacy in 1887. Lagidze’s drink quickly became a popular local commodity and he soon opened a syrup factory and a trademark which seem to have done well enough to survive to the present day, called "Воды Лагидзе" or "Lagidze's Waters."

french_terragon_true
Above: French tarragon

Below: Russian tarragon
Russian-(false)-Tarragon
В настоящее время известны две разновидности эстрагона − французский и русский. Французский эстрагон имеет темно-зеленые листья в отличие от русского, верхние листья которого имеют светло-зеленый цвет. Пожалуй, среди европейцев больше всего любят эстрагон именно французы.

- Telecafe.ru
 

Почему носит такое название?

"Тархун" is the Russian word for tarragon. Very similar names are used for the herb in other languages such as Georgian, Arabic, and Turkic. Tarragon is a widespread plant, which can be found in every region of Russia, as well as in North America, Georgia, France, India, and China. Tarragon oil is acquired by using steam to distill the leaves, stems, and flowers of the plant and this may then be made into syrup for the drink. The oil has a characteristic spicy, yet delicate odor reminiscent of licorice and sweet basil.

Historically, tarragon has been a traditional medicine to treat poor digestion in many cultures – including those of Europe. Tarragon was used by the ancient Greeks as a toothache medicine. The medieval Arab doctor Ibn Biter wrote that the juice squeezed from tarragon improves sleep and supplies a lot of vitamins to the body such as vitamin C and carotene. Many Russian sources also believe that tarragon increases the appetite, helps digestion, and improves sleep.

Tarragon is highly popular in French cooking. The French call the herb "estragon" or “little dragon” (it is sometimes referred to as "estragon" in English and Russian as well). The French sometimes also refer to it as “King of Herbs” as it is the main flavoring in many of the sauces that form the foundation of classic French cuisine, such as Béarnaise, Rigavote, and Tartare. While French tarragon is most commonly used in such recipes, it does not spread and reproduce as easily as Russian tarragon, and must be cultivated for commercial use.

Как правильно пить тархун?

Тархун is a fantastic drink for those sultry Russian summer days. Тархун can be found at nearly every grocery store or street kiosk in either plastic or glass bottles (those brands in glass bottles typically being a higher quality). There are three popular bands of тархун commonly sold in Russian supermarkets.

One type of тархун is made by the brand Росинка and usually comes in 1 – 2 liter bottles. Some find that this brand is more pleasing for the American palate, as it is somewhat sweeter and has plenty of carbonation. Of course, it has the typical tarragon flavor, with hints of citrus and licorice common to тархун.

Another brand of тархун is produced by Останские Напитки. This brand, while still sweet and fizzy, is more fragrant and herbal than Rosinka. There are traces of licorice and vanilla and just the smallest hint of a medicinal quality, reminiscent of a Riccola cough drop.

A third brand of тархун comes from Напитки из Черноголовки, which is bottled by the Russian beverage giant ОСТ-Аква. According to some, this blend of тархун tastes strongly herbal, almost to the point of spiciness. It is much more like an old-fashioned tonic drink than a modern day soft drink.

  tarhun brands in RussiaLeft: Воды Лагидзе, the original tarkhun.
Right:
Напитки из Черноголовки, the Soviet tarkhun, still on sale today.

Изобретён в 1887 году тифлисским аптекарем Митрофаном Лагидзе, который догадался добавлять в газированную воду с натуральными сиропами собственного производства пахучий экстракт кавказского эстрагона — тархуна. В советское время в этот напиток добавляли зёленый краситель. Но в настоящее время данный краситель подозревают во вредности здоровью и поэтому нынешние производители отказались от него. Настоящий Тархун, с тем самым вкусом, сейчас выпускают желтого цвета, но в зеленых бутылках, чтобы соответствовать привычкам потребителя. - Wikipedia

Как правильно готовить тархун?

There are typically two different ways of making тархун. The first involves steeping (soaking) tarragon branches in water, in order to extract the distinctive flavor. It’s best to boil the water first, so that when the sugar is added it dissolves faster. However, make sure to cool the тархун before drinking it.

The second variant of тархун is made by making a tarragon syrup. This is how brand-name тархун is usually made. While more complicated than the first method, it is certainly within the reach of any household. All that is needed to make the syrup is a blender and a stove.

You can make тархун using either French or Russian tarragon, although some Russian connoisseurs will tell you that Russian tarragon will be better. French tarragon in the culinary world is often referred to as "true" tarragon and has a smoother, sweeter taster than its Russian counterpart, which is often called "false" tarragon.

There are 2 challenges in making the perfect тархун. First, the final product of homemade тархун does not come out with that bright green color for which the drink is so popular. The tarragon branches can give the beverage a yellowish tint. Yet, this can be remedied by adding green food coloring. Likewise, mint, lime rind, or kiwi can be added to the syrup which will make the final beverage a bit greener (although it will also affect the taste).

Another challenge is the clarity of the drink. Chances are the homemade mixtures of тархун will contain some tarragon particles, which can be removed by filtering the solution.

Давай приготовим!

See below for a free recipe for various Russian kashas. See also the free videos online. If you are interested in cooking from Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, and other places in Eurasia, make sure to see our full, free Eurasian Cookbook online! You might also be interested in the following specialized cookbooks we've enjoyed:

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Сироп эстрагона

- 250 мл сахара
- 100 мл воды
- 1/8 ч.л. пищевой соды
- 10 граммов эстрагон
- 100 мл льда
- 50 мл сок лемона

В кастрюле, кипятите воду и сахар, взбалтывая часто. Смешайте пищевуп соду и эстрагон, жарьте 1 минута и убирайте из жара.

Переводите в блендер и смешайте до получения однородной массы. Добавьте лёд и сок лемона и смешайте еще. Фильтруйте и охлаждайте.

Смешайте сироп с 1 литром воды и добавьте зелёную краску.

Дает 6 порций

Tarragon Syrup

- 8 oz sugar
- 3 oz water
- 1/8 tsp baking soda
- 0.35 oz tarragon leaves
- 3 oz ice cubes
- 1.5 oz lemon juice

In a saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil, stirring constantly. Mix in the baking soda and tarragon, boil for 1 minute and remove from the heat.

Transfer to a blender and process until smooth. Add the ice cubes and lemon juice and process again. Filter the substance and refrigerate.

Mix syrup with 36 oz of water and add green food dye.

Yields 6 servings

Напиток из тархуна и лайма

Ингредиенты:

- 800 мл холодной воды
- 15-20 веточек тархуна
- Половина лайма или четверть лимона (выжимать сок)
- 2-3 ст.л. сахара
- 200 мл (1 стакан) горячей воды

В кувшин положите веточки тархуна – как есть, со стеблями. Добавьте немного сахара и разомните листья деревянной ложкой. (Не стоит измельчать листья в блендере, они потеряют цвет, станут бурыми и напиток получится непривлекательным).

Налейте в кувшин немного кипятка, чтобы быстрее растворился сахар.

Натрите цедру лайма или лимона, выжмите сок.

Долейте кувшин доверху холодной водой и поставьте в холодильник, чтобы напиток хорошо остыл.

Tarkhun and Lime

Ingredients:

- 800 milliliters of cold water
- 15-20 branches of tarragon
- Juice from a half a lime or ¼ of lemon
- 2-3 tablespoons of sugar
- 200 milliliters (1 glass) of hot water

Put the tarragon branches into a jug – as they are, with stems. Add a bit of sugar and knead the leaves with a wooden spoon. (It is not a good idea to mix leaves in a blender as they will lose color, get brown and the drink will not look attractive).

Pour some boiling water into the jug to make the sugar dissolve faster.

Grate the lime or lemon rind and squeeze the juice into the jug.

Add cold water up to the edges of the jug and put it into the fridge to cool the drink.

Our Favorite Tarkhun Videos

Here is a good video on how to easily make a refreshing batch of тархун. The video was made my “Pulse Plus,” a Russian website that provides information and advice on healthy living.

This half-hour program, part of the regular series Контролная закупка, produced by First Channel in Russia, looks at expert opinion, scientific analysis, and public opinion to determine which tarkhun brand is best. They also show recipes for making your own tarkhun and a tarkhun-based cocktail.

In this video, a chef from Всем вкусно (Tasty for All) shows viewers how to make fresh lemonade out of kiwi and tarragon. Всем вкусно is a sponsored site – this particular video is sponsored by a brand of kitchen cleaner called "CIF."

Lastly, while commercials for tarkhun and other traditional drinks in Russia are rarely seen (with the occasional exception of kvass), this commercial shows a few drinks from the tarkhun manufacturer Напитки из Черноголовки. Although this commercial does not show the tarkhun they make, it does emphasise the reason that Russians buy products from this company: for the natural refreshment!


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