|Tea served in open air Sa'adabad Restaurant in Tehran|
|Swirling the saffron flavored crystal rock sugar in our tea|
Our experience with tea began as soon as we stepped our feet in Iran. We had an eight-hour flight to Tehran followed by another 5 hours drive to Mazandaran. In the middle of the darkness, our taxi driver stopped at one of the tea house on the highway to have a cup of tea. It was about 1 am and he must be sleepy - the tea kept him awake until we arrived to our destination. On arrival at our host's house in Babol, Mazandaran we were served tea at 3am. The greetings and welcoming was as warm as the cup of tea served!
Taking tea is a ritual unto itself and as such the drink is offered in the beginning of an occasion as well as at the end of most meals. In Eram Garden in Shiraz and Sa'adabad Palace in Tehran, we had tea in Chaikhaneh (Tea House) served on a takhts (low rise platform) covered with rugs and pillows. We have to remove our shoes, sit on the platform and the tablecloth is laid at our feet. While sipping our tea we could recline on the pillows, chat with our friends and the whole experience was very relaxing especially with green trees and flowers surrounding the takhts.
|The takht we sat in Saadabad|
In Sa'adabad, the tea house has live band performing with male singer singing Iranian songs. While waiting for tea and food to be served the Iranians were singing along to the tune and some young vibrant girls started to clap their hands, move their heads and tap their feet to the music. Not long after that, the management staff approached the girls to remind them that they were not supposed to be singing or dancing in public. Though the conversation was in Persian, we understood what was going on when Soudabeh translated the whole conversation between the man and the girls. We smiled when Soudabeh started to sing in a whispering voice and she assured us, "My voice is not going to hurt them!"
|Dates, Saffron flavored rock sugar and tea|
|The cool blue jelly served with tea|
|Takht at the tea house in Eram Garden, Shiraz|
|Tea house in Eram, Shiraz set in a beautiful garden of pomegranate|
|Tea served in the street shops in Shiraz|
|Happy girls clapping and enjoying themselves for a moment|
|Live band in Sa'adabad|
|Tea House in the middle of the highway to Mazandaran|