Chayee. (Tea in Farsi)
Blossom sent me this Persian Plum Rose black tea to try and OH MY GOSH, it's so good! I always love to try different people's take on the traditional Persian tea. Blossom added in plum favoring which is so awesome to me because plums and fruits in general are so central to our culture!
I've always found it fascinating that many of my family members, specifically some of my uncles, are basically fruit connoisseurs! I know it sounds silly but hear me out. When you go to a Persian household, there will always be a few things offered to you. Among those is tea of course but also fruit! I can't remember going to my aunts or uncles houses and them not having a HUGE platter of fruit. I'm talking pears, plums, bananas, berries, cherries, apricots, grapes etc. My uncles always seemed to have a story about fruits or about fruits that we don't have here in the US. Plums were always a hot topic because you would not believe how many types of plums there are! The addition of plum to this blend was very special to me.
There are many ways to brew persian tea. Some include rose water, some include persian roses but almost always cardamom is a top choice ingredient. I love how this blend has whole pods of cardamom. There are also these hard sugar candies (called ahb nabat) that have pieces of cardamom in them that are often enjoyed with tea.
This blend has a beautiful, fruity aroma where the plum flavor really grabs your senses. The hint of cardamom is also there. A black tea base is common as usual. My personal favorite is ceylon. This tea perfectly captured the tastes from my childhood. The tea is strong but there are notes of sweet from the plum, cardamom and rose. It was really a delightful blend. I can't wait to share a glass with my mom!
The funny thing is that tea was not always the drink of choice for Iranians. Until about the 15th century, coffee was the dominant beverage. This is so strange to say because when I think about Iranian culture, tea is what first comes to mind. Tea wasn't even cultivated inside Iran until much later. It quickly became the drink of choice. It is enjoyed at all times of the day.
My grandfather used to love to drink sweet tea after a meal to settle his stomach and I have also adopted this practice. Sweet tea is a common drink enjoyed at breakfast alongside lavash with sheeps milk cheese and occasionally walnuts (I always add walnuts). Any other time of day tea is also enjoyed. It's always tea time!
Back to rose. Rose is also a central ingredient in many dishes, especially sweets. Most of the time rosewater is what is used to flavor cookies, cakes, sweets and tea too! Rose petals and buds are often used in tea instead of rose water. This gives a much mellower flavor but still the added perfume of the rose. I personally prefer buds and petals over rosewater in tea.
Finally, I want to tell you about how Persian tea is traditionally enjoyed, at least in my household. My family is from Tehran and because Iran is such a large country with many regional differences, It's quite possible that people from different regions brew and drink their tea differently. I don't think it's any coincidence that Persians love strong, black tea especially because they were once a coffee drinking populous.
Not everyone likes their tea sweet, but my family definitely does! I mentioned ahb nabat earlier which is a hard sugar candy sometimes with cardamom. Another very common sweetener is a sugar cube! This was always something that confused my friends when they came over. Why do you have sugar cubes on the table?
The way I was taught is that you brew a strong tea, often times over the "suggested brew time." Take a sugar cube, place it in your mouth and hold it there. As you take each sip of tea, keep the sugar cube in your mouth. Each sip will pass by the sugar cube, sweetening it until the sugar cube is dissolved. It's a fun little trick and definitely makes for sweet tea!
Do you have a favorite way to sweeten tea?