Azerbaijan is definetely one of the countries every tea-lover has to visit at least once!
When it comes to loving tea, Azerbaijan stands unbeaten. The Azerbaijanis are known to drink on average 6-8 kg of tea per household annually, which is truly huge! Azerbaijanis cannot imagine their daily life without this refreshing drink.
Called “Chay”, a classic Azerbaijani tea is black, freshly brewed and comes in a traditional glass called “armudu” which literally means “pear-shaped”. The glass keeps the tea hot at the bottom while helping it cool faster at the top, maintaining a constant temperature. Every tea connoisseur, knows his or her black tea, being recognized by the deep burgundy shade called “Purrengi” or "velvet tea". The drink is often served with lemon, cubes of sugar and soft fruit preserves. It often sounds strange to tourists to drink tea with “jam” as they call it but after trying it, it turns out not only as simple as it sounds, but a truly AMAZING taste experience like they never had before. The difference between a fruit preserve and a jam is that fruit preserves have whole fruit or large pieces of fruit while jam is made from mashed fruit. This is how it’s done: you spoon out a little bit of fruit preserve for yourself (out of the bowl in which it is served) into a smaller glass container. Then you simply put a small spoonful of it in your mouth, and sip the tea through the "jam". The preserves transform the flavor of the tea as it hits your taste buds, adding a totally different kind of sweetness than regular sugar cubes. Some popular fruit preserves which you may come accross in Azerbaijan are made from walnuts, white cherries, rose petals, figs, cornelberries and quince. So, if you ever find yourself in Azerbaijan, do at least this one thing: Drink the tea, with fruit preserve , guaranteed you’d never tasted something like it before!
Chaykhana (Tea House) in Baku, 1888
Tea and tea customs reflect ancient traditions and local hospitality in Azerbaijan. The traditional tea ceremony has its own rules and practices. For example: the host has to offer tea to every visitor, the tradition says that one should not allow the guest to leave the house without having at least one cup of tea.
Tea is mainly grown in the tea gardens of Lankaran-Astara region, located in the south of Azerbaijan. This is also the location where the famous “Azerchay” leaves are harvested from. In 1934, when specialists from Moscow visited Lankaran and took samples of the soil, after analyzing they found out that Lankaran is one of the most fructuous areas for growing tea. Since that time, Lankaran became the main area in Azerbaijan for the cultivation of tea, rice, citrus fruit and vegetables. Roughly 90 percent of Azerbaijani tea production falls within Lankaran city.