Posted in Kafevend Blog
A number of recent blogs have looked at the Japanese tea ceremony. Now it's time to move on to another part of the world and although it has a different style of ceremony, it still places tea very much at the centre of life. Any guest to an Azerbaijani home will be offered tea, no matter how brief the visit, as it's considered a sign of genuine hospitality.
Offering guests a cup of tea is familiar etiquette to us here in the UK too, but mugs and kettles are replaced by rather more exotic equipment. Samovars are commonly used to boil the water for the tea, which is served in an armudu, a tulip-shaped glass. As well as being an aesthetically pleasing receptacle, the armudu also allows the top half of the tea to cool ready for drinking while preserving heat in the bottom layer. The glasses don't have handles, but are easy to pick up because of their shape – wide at the top with a narrow middle section.
While tea is taken without milk it's routine to sweeten it, though not by stirring in a spoonful of sugar. Instead, a lump of sugar is held between the teeth and the tea sipped through it. Alternatively, tea can be sipped through a sweet or a variety of fruit jams, traditionally home-made. Spices such as cinnamon, cardamom or ginger, and herbs like mint or thyme are also often used in the brew to add flavour.
The word for tea in Azerbaijan is çay and is pronounced chai, so no surprises there! There is a saying, 'çay nədir, say nədir', meaning – when drinking tea, don't count the cups, which clearly indicates the high regard with which tea is held and the fact that the tea ceremony is never something to be rushed.