Posted in Iran-Go and visit!, tagged Azadeghan, Chai-Khaneh, Esfahan, Hookah, Hubble-Bubble, Iran, Isfahan, Middle East, Naqsh-e Jahan Square, Tea, Tea house on May 18, 2012 |
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Iranian teahouses (Chai-Khaneh) are traditionally men-only hideaways where they can sit and drink tea (chai) all day and well into the night. My favourite teahouse (subject to my comments below) is the Azadegan Teahouse near the Naqsh-e-Jahan Square where women are allowed albeit in the family area only. I am not allowed to venture beyond the dividing curtain and smoke Hubble-Bubble.
Not being a Hubble-Bubble smoker, I like this place because of its unique ambiance and fun decoration which is over-the-top to say the least. The place is crammed full of lamps and pictures, pots, mirrors and ephemera of all kinds. A bohemian cave if ever there was one.
There is a prominent sign saying “No Photographs” and normally I’m happy to respect their wishes and oblige. But as everyone else was taking pictures and I wasn’t offending anyone I took a few for posterity.
Back to my comments above. Previous visits to this teahouse have been charming but this time I have to say that the toilets were rank, and the waiter fair threw the tray of tea and naabot at us. He may just have been having a “bad hair day” but it spoilt my visit. He also charged us for something we didn’t ask for and didn’t eat (Baklava) which represented £1.20 out of a total bill of £1.60! But at those prices it seemed incredibly churlish to complain so Feri paid up in full and we left vowing never to return! (of course we will.) It is very out of character for the Iranians to be so surly and unhelpful. From my experience, they are not rude or impatient at all but are more than happy to pander to your custom.
For me, I’m quite happy to make my way past chickens in wire pens, and huge vinegar vats to get to this teahouse hidden in the corner (and you certainly wouldn’t find it if you didn’t already know it was there) and I’m sure that like Arnie, ” we will be back”.
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On a previous visit to Iran we were lucky enough to be invited round to tea by our next-door-neighbours. This was no ordinary tea-time though as the point of the invitation was to show me the extremely old samovar and charcoal burner that is the traditional Iranian way to prepare tea. I forget now just how old the samovar is but I think it is at least 70 years old.
We sat on a takht, covered in a Persian carpet and drank tea as it should be drunk! Calmly with friends.
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Posted in Iranian food, tagged cardamom, Iran, Isfahan, karshaan, Middle East, Nanat, Pulaki, rosewater, saffron, samovar, Sohan, Sugar, Tea on May 10, 2012 |
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Iranians have always loved their tea and I love their tea too. Mostly it is brewed from a mild, non-aromatic long-leaved loose tea with T-bags only being used for convenience on picnics and when travelling .
Iranian or Persian tea is brewed for breakfast, at mid-morning, before and after lunch and dinner and at all hours in between! In fact we always have a pot of tea keeping warm over the kettle (in Iran) or over a tea-light warmer when in the UK (see photo above). Persian tea is drunk black and traditionally served in “Estekaans” which are small, see-through glass cups.
Being a mild tea means that you can experiment with different flavours to suit your taste and common Persian additions include rose petals or rosewater and cardamom. I was given a packet of pods to bring back to the UK on my recent visit to Iran and I love the tangy taste not just in tea but in the Iranian sweet Sohan, made in Esfahan.
Sohan is a traditional Iranian toffee flavoured with saffron and cardamom and covered in slivers of almond and pistachio nuts. I would have shown you a photo of the box of Sohan I brought back with me last week but I’ve eaten it
Different types of sugar cubes are also served with the tea, and my two favourites are Nabat and Pulaki. I prefer plain Pulaki, thin slivers of crystallised sugar, to the variety made with sesame seeds but it is a personal choice and you will usually be offered a variety of sweeteners to choose from. You can add the sugar to your tea, as in Chai Nabat, or sip your tea through the sugar in your mouth. Alternatively, you can drink your tea without but that’s not nearly as much fun!
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