On Sunday 16th October saw us hosting a Persian tea party at the National Maritime Museum as part of their ‘Traders Unpacked’ season linked to the new permanent gallery ‘Traders: The East India Company and Asia’. Peggy Cassalli from Iranian Community East London added to the authenticity on the day by giving an intro to Iranian tea customs and gave lucky guests a tea demo bringing along her samovar and a bona fide tea pot and tea glasses.
As it goes in Iranian culture, tea is so widely consumed that it is generally the first thing offered to a household guest. Tea houses, or chaikhanehs, have been in existence since the Persian empire. Iranians have one of the highest per capita rates of tea consumption in the world and from old times every street has had a Châikhâne (Tea House). Châikhânes are still an important social place.
Iranians traditionally drink tea by pouring it into a saucer and putting a lump of rock sugar (qand) in the mouth before drinking the tea. Guests partook in this custom with a array of sweets to sweeten tea including sugar cubes, noghl (sugar coated almonds) and dried mulberries.