Tea in Persian Culture
Every morning, in houses all over Iran, a gas burner flickers to life under a kettle that will continue to boil all day. It boils through morning prayers, lunches of rice and kebabs, afternoon conversation and late into the evening meal, sustaining talk of politics, gossip and news well into the night.
The kettle contains tea, one of the most important cornerstones of Iranian culture, and the tea house is its centuries-old keeper.
Tea production is a major industry in the Caspian Sea area and a large part of its economy. Before 1900, there was no tea production in Iran, but in 1895, an Iranian diplomat named Kashef Al Saltaneh decided to change that. At the time the English had a strict monopoly of tea production in India, with rigid rules against non-Europeans engaging in this trade. Kashef Al Saltaneh, who had studied in Paris as a young man and was fluent in French, went to India, posed as a French businessman, learned the trade and smuggled some tea saplings and seeds to Iran.
After six years of experimentation, he introduced his first product to the market, and started the industry that revolutionalized the economy of two northern states, Gilan and Mazandaran, and made Iranians avid tea drinkers.
He is known today as the father of Iranian Tea, and his mausoleum, in the city of Lahijan, houses the tea museum. Further reading reveals that Kashef Al Saltaneh’s other honorable titles include Prince Mohammad Mirza, Iranian ambassador to India, and first mayor of Tehran. Moreover, the stash that commenced the tea plantation might have actually been 3,000 saplings! Tea houses, or chaikhanehs, have been in existence since the Persian Empire. They gained prominence after the 15th century, when coffee was abandoned in favour of tea leaves that were easier to come by through China’s Silk Road. Though once the purview of men, chaikhanehs have increasingly become frequented by all members of society, and especially by Iran’s large youth population.
Iranian tea comes in a variety of subtle flavours, but its defining characteristic is its deep reddish-brown colour, which tea-drinkers can choose to dilute with water depending on their preference. Despite its cultivation in the country’s northern provinces, other teas from Sri Lanka and India are also widely consumed as the country imports a majority of its tea in order to meet the large demand.
Buy Persian Black Tea
SKU: 246 UPC: 340923
Description: The true candy-like spice character of the cardamom comes through in the cup. Lovely aroma! This delicious infusion will be loved by many tea drinkers. Milk and/or sugar are recommended to achieve the ultimate taste sensation. The Ceylon tea is premium quality and you have to try this Persian tea experience.
Growing Region/Country: Nuwara Eliya + Dimbula + Uva/Sri Lanka
Brewing: 3g tea leaves (1 heaping teaspoon) per 8oz (250 ml) of filtered, boiling water. Allow to brew 3-7 min. May be re-infused.