Chai – Te – Tea

It’s no secret that we Iranians drink an incredible amount of tea every day. It is a ritual about tea drinking that is not so widely known. On the other hand, what most do not know is that Iran produces lots of tea. It’s really an incredible story about how the production started in Iran. In 1895, the English had a monopoly on tea production in India with the quite rigid rules for non-Europeans to engage in this trade.

 

Kashef Al Saltaneh had studied in Paris and was fluent in French; He traveled to India and pretended to be a French businessman. Smuggled tea seedlings and seeds to Iran. He is called the father of Iranian tea. It is in northern Iran (Lahijan) where the largest production takes place. 160 million kg of tea per year is produced in Iran today.

Samovar is a must in an Iranian home. Have several in our home, but there’s no room for it in our kitchen, so I choose another method for brewing tea. Bought stackers (see picture below) the lower contains boiling water and the top is where we have the tea leaves that we pour boiling water over. I then put the stove on the lowest heat, throughout the morning. Tea brewed this way has an aroma that is incredible, after drinking this kind of brewed hot tea, you will never go back to tea bags, I promise you that!

Tea is served in translucent glass cups, incredibly important to see the color of the tea. The glass cups are not as big as the Swedish “big” cups!

Many Iranians, though not everybody drinks tea by dipping a sugar cube into the tea first, then put in the mouth and continue to drink tea and suck the tea through the sugar until it dissolves – one cube of sugar is enough for a whole cup! Why do they do that? Most do not know the story behind it. By the late 1800s, the Shah of Iran gave sugar cube concession to Belgium, resulting in protests from the businessmen in bazaars of Iran. The mullahs issued a fatwa that declared that the Belgian sugar cube was “haram” (forbidden / unclean). The Royal Court then issued a re-fatwa that; since tea was “halal” (allowed / clean) you could clean the sugar by first dipping it in the tea! Sim, sala, bim a ritual was born 😊. Personally, I prefer tea with honey, have used artificial sweets earlier but now I am all in for the honey.

I mix different teas to optimize taste and aroma.

1/3 share plain Ahmad tea
1/3-part Lady Gray tea
1/3 piece of plain Earl Gray

Enjoy!!



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