The tea culture in Azerbaijan

Every nation is unique, with its own set of traditions, habits and customs that create a distinct difference around their people. These people were born and raised with those standards their homeland is setting, so no matter the place their life takes them, they will always carry the traits of their nation within their heart. Azerbaijan is certainly the country with very vibrant and rich culture, that mirrors on the personalities of its nation. Azerbaijani people are deeply positive, bright and kind people. They prefer quiet and peaceful life with laughter filling their houses and tea parties taking place after every meal. Today, we will explore the tea culture in Azerbaijan, that has been as huge part of Azerbaijanis identity as bravery or kindness have been.

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There are not a lot of nations that are famous with their love for tea as azerbaijani people are. They seem to be so used to the peacefulness of it all, that even the perspective of drinking this delicious, but hot beverage in the middle of the summer doesn't seem to put them off. Mostly, it is a common knowledge that tea is to be served both before and after every meal, especially dinner and lunch.

Tea has been present in Azerbaijan for centuries, as the travelers were bringing it from India with the help of the Silk Road. It quickly became everyone's favorite beverage, going as far as shahs (rulers) having tea while discussing important political issues. It also became quite important for royal families' protection. In Europe, one of the most common methods you could overthrow a dynasty with was to poison the cup with wine of the king, which resulted in a certain tradition. The kings during the important discussions would clink cups so that drops from one cup flow into another. It would show their mutual good intentions and respect they shared among them, as well as protecting them from possible danger. Tea served the similar purpose, as the sugar cube would be dipped into the glass before drinking from it. The poisons back in the days were mostly organic, therefore it would immediately show a certain chemical reaction with sugar.

But even though the tea was widely used in Azerbaijan for years and years, the first tea bush was planted in Lankaran district in late 19th century. That first few years were experimental, but the actual growth of them with selling purposes didn’t start until the twenties of 20th century. Since then, the Azerbaijani tea has grown to have fame in many countries for its high quality and rich taste. In 2022 tea culture was included by Azerbaijan in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of UNESKO.

Most of the time, the different kinds of herbs or spices (such as mint or cardamon) are added into the mix to make the tea become as special as it can. Another important aspect of brewing is the samovars (special kind of kettles that are specifically heated by fire, the tube inside of it usually filled with the smoke that heats the water) they use to boil the water. This method has been used on a daily basis ever since the Middle Ages. The samovar tea is quite easy to differ from a regular kettle one, as it not only has a slightly different taste but a smoky woody smell as well.

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The tea culture and traditions surrounding the drinking ceremony have taken a very important place in the hearts of locals. They follow them almost subconsciously at this point, for example, the serving of the tea in the Azerbaijani household will most definitely include different kinds of national pastries, such as shekerbura and pakhlava, along with the specific type of jam with sugared fruits and berries still inside of it. It also is very important to bring sugar to the table, even though people rarely drink tea with sugar here, but it is considered the showcase of good will and hospitality.

The tea is usually served in specific glasses, called armudu. The pear shape of the glass was the topic of discussions many times, some were convinced it was made this way for the aesthetic purposes only, but the truth lies on the surface. The shape allows the tea at the bottom of the glass get colder much slower, so it is still as hot as it was, when it was originally served.

Another little tradition surrounding the topic of tea-drinking is also related to wedding preparations. When the family of a groom comes into the bride’s house to get a blessing, the tea is being served at the end of the evening. If the bride’s family are not supportive of this union, they will add sugar into the glass itself, it indicates the desire to reject the offer, whereas if they plan on accepting it, they would put the sugar by the cup. It can prevent the families from having any sort of awkwardness or bad blood between them.

There is so much more we could talk about, surrounding the tea culture in Azerbaijan, but the most important thing is over the years tea has become such an integral part of Azerbaijan’s culture, that it is almost certain, that no good gathering or celebration could pass by without a cup or two of good strong tea. It is mostly planted in the south districts, such as Lerik and Lankaran. If you’re visiting Azerbaijan, we think it is a perfect opportunity to see the tea plantations in Lankaran with your own eyes, which can be arranged with the help of Azerbaijan Travel International on our Lankaran-Lerik Tour. We are a highly professional and caring team, that will provide you with the best experiences and comfortable travelling conditions. Contact us today, so you can have the vacation of your dreams without a worry for the tiresome aspects of it.

Tags: lankaran , Azerbaijan , Tea culture , Green Tea , Teahouses

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