Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Chai (Tea)

As with coffee, tea is also another drink of social importance in the Middle East but unlike it , there isn't as much ritual surrounding it.Tea is popular in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, but especially in Iran.This is believed to be traced to the Circassians who introduced it there. Tea seemed to gain a foothold in Iran somewhere between the 17th and 20th centuries as a result of governmental authorities believing that the coffeehouses were centers of religious and political dissention.Finally, the 1920's saw the baning of coffee in Iran.This in turn led to tea being the official drink of Iran.

Like coffee, tea is always offered to a guest as a sign of welcome and also like coffee is served while conducting business in the office or in the souks.Traditionally, tea was prepared using a samovar, a russian-type tea serving dispenser but nowadays a regular kettle is used.It is served in small glasses served atop saucers with a cube sugar on the side. Any type of tea may be used but preferably Darjeling.Milk or cream is never used or served.There are teas made with special infusions of lime flowers or rose petals but these are usually drunk for medicinal purposes or to cure ailments.
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