When you walk into an Iranian home after the customary greetings, the first thing you would be offered as soon as you sit down is a well brewed hot cup of tea. Tea is the hot beverage of choice in Iran where it is served for breakfast, lunch, dinner and in between with at least one or more refills. There's more to drinking tea than meets the eye. It's about being together with family and friends, relaxing and talking. However, when alone nothing is better than drinking tea and reading a good book. The history of tea dates back to the late 15th century. Before that coffee was the main hot drink in our country. Coffee houses (ghahveh khaneh) were built on the side of roads, as resting places for travelers. They would be served some food and a chance to take a break for awhile before heading out to their destinations. The name "coffee house" (ghahveh khaneh) still remains to date even though they mainly serve tea. To brew a perfect Persian style tea, you need a good quality long, loose leaf black tea.Using a porcelain or china teapot is recommended. The teapot should have several tiny holes inside where the spout is located which works as a strainer. Also, you need a kettle not only to boil the water but to serve as a stand for the teapot while the tea is brewing on the stove. Using an electrical samavar, if you happen to have one, is the best option. Samavar was brought to Iran in the 18th century from Russia.
- Fill the kettle with fresh cold water and bring to a boil. As soon as the water comes to a boil, warm up your teapot by rinsing it with some hot water from the kettle.
- Place 2 tablespoons of tea into the teapot.
- Pour water into the pot over the loose tea leaves. Fill it nearly to the rim and put the lid back on.
- Place the pot on the kettle in a secure position. It should fit well on the kettle. Allow it to brew for at least 10-15 minutes on medium to low heat.
- Rinse inside the cups with hot water.
- Gently pour tea into glass cups to prevent it from making a lot of bubbles. Depending on how strong or light you might like your tea, adjust it using the boiled water in the kettle. It is a good practice when serving a large group of guests to have a tray with both light and dark tea.