Tea or Chai

Drinking tea is a national past time in Iran. It’s traditional to drink tea which part of Iran, whatever the occasion. Tea is always on offer where ever you go be it visiting friends and family, in the bazaar, at work … almost everything stops for tea! I even get offered tea when I visit my favourite Iranian grocery store in London! I remember my mother visiting  us  when I lived in Tehran and we took a trip to the Bazaar and how surprised she was that tea was offered to us at every stall we stopped at. Can you imagine being offered tea at your local market!

Iran is full of Tea shops or chai khaneh whether you’re in a city or a village or crossing the mountains, you are sure to come across a chai khaneh sooner or later.

What you need to know about making persian Tea or Chai.

You’d think making tea was easy..  it is provided you know what you’re doing and you have the right mix  of tea leaves. There are 1,500  different types of tea to choose from and within those there are several grades of tea leaves  from Orange pekoe aka pecco, the highest grade, to what’s known as ‘fannings’ or tea dust the poorest grade and that’s what you would usually find in an average  tea bag.

Persian tea is always black, without milk and has its own distinctive taste . Here are a few tips on how to make  it. It’s always best to buy loose tea leaves, mix them and store in a container within easy reach. Never use tea bags !

This mix will make a lovely cuppa:

  • 1 part earl grey
  • 2 parts Darjeeling
  • A teaspoon of  orange pekoe
  • filter the water before you use it

I often add a pinch of za’faran and a small limu ormani to a pot of brewing tea, alternatively a few cardamom pips. They do say that too much limu ormani causes impotence…  so perhaps stick to the cardamom seeds as they are known to have the opposite effect!

How to make Persian chai

what you will need:

  • loose tea leaves
  • a samovar
  • a strainer
  • Boiling water


  1. Place water in your samovar and bring it to the boil.
  2. Warm your tea-pot with a little hot water and place 2 teaspoons of tea leaves in it.
  3. Place on the top of your samovar and leave to soak.
  4. The water in the kettle can boil but your tea should not.
  5. If you want to add anything such as cardamom seeds now is the time to do it.
  6. Leave to brew for about 10-15 mins
  7. When the colour of the tea is dark enough it is ready to serve. It should be rich.
  8. Poor a little tea into a cup and then top up with water from the kettle.

Serve tea with ghand or raw sugar cubes.  Persians usually drink the tea through the sugar cube itself and dont place the sugar in the tea. You can also use nabat or candied sugar pieces or on a small stick which you place in the tea  cup itself.


One thought on “Tea or Chai

  1. What a great blog you have here. I stumbled accross when researching chai khaneh’s. I love Chai and found out that us persians actually drank coffee before tea on a documentary i watched last month. tea was brought to us in the last century from the east, India or sri lanka i believe, so originally chai khaneh was called ghaveh khaneh. peace.

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