Tea seems to be an ordinary beverage or something additional to everyday meals. A visit to Azerbaijan showed me how something everyday could have huge cultural value. Here, tea is something more than drink. In this article I want to show a unique place of tea in the culture of Azerbaijan.
The advent of tea plant to Azerbaijan dates back to 1912, it was first planted in the Lankaran localised in the south of Azerbaijan. Climatic conditions and humidity make this region favourable for the cultivation of tea. Nowadays it is very popular in whole country and it is also part of Azerbaijan lifestyle – average person consumes 2,5 kg of tea annually. Some people say „Çay nədir, say nədir” what means „When you drink tea, you do not count glasses”. This synonym reflects family life style. It is very common, that in the evening groups of mens are seating near the streets and discussing current problems, playing games (backgammon, domino) or talking about future.
An integral part of drinking tea is brewing it in samowar, which comes from Russia. There are different kinds of samovars in Azerbaijan. In Lankaran (city in the south of Azerbaijan) you can find big monument of samovar. Whole process of preparing tea is very interesting, because it takes a lot of time and it looks like part of ceremony. What is more, thera are special glasses to drinking tea – Armudu. Glasses look like pear. This shape is very practical, because glass is handley and prevents slipping out of your hands. This unique shape makes top layer cooler (and it is suitable to drinking) and bottom still hot.
It is very interesting, that tea is served with different types of jams. There are very popular rose and cherry james. It is common to drink tea with one of the kinds of blackberry, eggplant, tomato, watermelon and walnut. Essential part of tea is big amount of sugar, sweets and lemon. Sometimes one cube of sugar is consumed with one gulp of tea.
Tea is also part of cultural habits. When a young man asks the family for permission to marry, tea is used as an answer. At the end of the meeting the parents of the future bride give man a cup of tea. When tea is sweet, they agree, otherwise unfortunately, young man has to find another fiance.
In conclusion I would to say, that tea is not only as a supplement to daily meals, but it does much more important role. It is part of everyday life, entertainment and customs revolve around tea. What is more, in my opinion it is very tasty. Being a guest in Azerbaijan initially high intake of tea surprised me, but later I realized how it is important. To understand this you need to come here and feel it.