I keep reading how much better green tea is for you, but black tea (chaii) makes me feel good the minute I drink it! It is the ultimate picker upper with only 47 mg caffeine per 8 ounces. Black tea is loaded with antioxidants and is believed to lower cholesterol and also to be beneficial to the cardiovascular health. The brewed black tea is served with sugar cubes, other sweets and pastries or just black. Persians love their chaii with breakfast, at 10 a.m., after lunch, at 4 p.m., after dinner and sometimes at 11 p.m. This is not to say that necessarily all the Persians drink that much tea and at those specific times on a given day, for example my favorite tea time is late afternoon. What it does mean though is that no matter what time of the day you feel like drinking it, is the right time. It is a reward after a hard day’s work. It is a dessert after a satisfying meal. It is an aromatic drink to welcome the guests to one’s home. It is a social drink among friends who meet at the local teahouse or ghahveh khaneh, which oddly enough translates to coffee house. No coffee is served in these tea houses, they only serve lots of freshly brewed black tea with an abundant supply of sugar cubes. Ghahveh khaneh has been around since the early 1900s, maybe earlier.
Good quality loose black tea is naturally dark brown to black in color and consists of large leaves and very little powder. One of the best kinds of tea is Ceylon that has a very rich flavor, aroma and strength. Another very popular tea is Darjeeling which is a thin bodied, fruity tea that has a much lighter color when brewed. Some good loose black tea blends are readily available in the supermarkets such as, English Breakfast and Irish Breakfast that have a rich color and flavor. I would recommend making your own blend by mixing equal parts of English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast and Earl Grey tea for added fragrance. Some Middle Eastern markets also carry quality loose tea blends.
The traditional device for making tea is called samavar, which originates from Russia.
Another option is the combination of an electric kettle or a stove top kettle, a teapot, and an electric cup warmer. This is what I use; because unless you are making tea for a large number of people on a daily basis, you really don’t need a large and expensive samavar.
You boil fresh cold water in the electric kettle, pour it in the teapot over loose tea, and then steep it on the cup warmer.
You also cover the top of the teapot with a small napkin for more efficient brewing. Be careful that the napkin does not come in contact with the heated surface. Strain the brewed tea if you don’t want tea leaves in your serving cups.
UPDATE: A different version of black tea is called “Chaii Shirin” or “Shirin Chai” in Azeri; the English translation is sweet tea. So instead of serving a sugar cube or two on the side, the sugar is stirred in with the tea before drinking it.
A simple pouring technique creates the fun look of a two-colored tea as shown in the above photograph.
Technique: Add 2-3 teaspoons of granulated sugar to a clear tea glass. Pour 3 ounces of hot water to the glass and stir until the sugar dissolves. Next, tilt the glass slightly to one side and VERY gingerly and in a slow stream pour about 3 ounces of the full strength freshly brewed black tea into the glass. When you set the glass upright, the black tea will float on top of the clear sugar water. To drink, stir the tea and you will have Chaii Shirin!
Note: A reader reminded me of this fun childhood memory last night and I thank her for the comment and participation.
- 1 ½ TBSP loose tea leaves (English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast, Earl Grey mix)
- 2 cups cold water (freshly boiled) for steeping tea leaves
- Extra 6-8 cups of cold water for boiling
- Bring 2 cups of fresh cold water to a boil in an electric kettle or a stove top kettle.
- Add 1 ½ tablespoon loose tea to the teapot. Pour the hot boiling water over the tea leaves.
- Cover the teapot and place it over the cup warmer. Cover the top loosely with a folded napkin. Do not let the napkin come in contact with the heated surface.
- Steep the tea for 10-15 minutes, or until the desired color.
- Meanwhile boil 6-8 cups of fresh cold water in the electric kettle. Keep very hot.
- Use a strainer and pour about 2 ounces of the brewed tea into each tea glass. The strainer will catch the floating tea leaves.
- Fill each glass with freshly boiled hot water. Adjust the color to your taste.
Fae's Twist & Tango says
Beautiful presentation! I love Persian brewed/steeped tea and drink all day long and many cups of it. 🙂
Thank you Fae! So glad to meet another tea lover, come to think of it I have not met an Iranian who doesn’t like our wonderful brewed tea. There is something about tea that makes it refreshing in cold weather as well as warm summer months, at least that is how it is in our household! I won’t mention any names! but some members of my family drink tea all day up to right before they go to bed, you might say it is their nightcap :)))
Mansour Moghadasian says
This is the 2nd time, I’ve visited your site portal.. I can say for sure, all presentation and dish servings recipe are not only technical to its best, but
very glamorous and just glorious… if I said the right words… Thank you so much. I wish I had a good yard with plenty of space that I could plant every
little ingredients and herbs in my backyard… nothing but great presentations… Thank you
Salam dear Mansour; I’m thrilled that you like my work; it’s wonderful to read your nice encouraging words. I hope you will try some of the recipes; if you do, let me know what you think.
I agree, planting different ingredients and herbs is a true pleasure; hope it comes true for you.
Thanks so much for writing to me. Have a great week!
Poune Bahrampour says
Thank you dear Homa, this reminds me of a lovely time of our friends who made this two-colored tea but only for their favorite people.?
Dear Poune; Yes, it has always been just for the favored guests and the youngest (tah taghari) in the family lol! Now you can feel special and treat yourself to it anytime you want 😉 Have a great week!
Last time I was in Iran the Shah was in office. I remember clearly the small multicoloured teapots that looked as if they had been repaired many times with wire staples. They were arranged along the back of a counter surrounded by what I thought was hot ash. The tea is served with a saucer of hand-cut sugar cubes and was delicious. I seem to remember scented hookah pipes were present.
Dear Bill, things have not changed much as far as the tea drinking culture goes. As a matter of fact it probably has stayed the same for centuries lol! It sounds like you have visited some authentic and fun ghahveh khooneh in Iran, thanks so much for sharing! Please take care and keep in touch
very nice website. Also beautiful pictures. thank you
Dear Khasha thank you so much for visiting and thanks for the lovely comment.
It looks far better than those Indian chais which always have half a cup of milk and dont ever taste good
Thank you John for visiting my page, and I’m glad you like my tea post. Persian tea is an all-day drink for most Persians (meaning they drink it several times a day from breakfast to bedtime :)); it is refreshing and so good for you. I also enjoy Indian chai occasionally as a dessert drink after some meals.
I recently went to a persian restaurant, and tasted their hot tea. It was possibly the best tea I ever had in my life. The tea was more flavorful than regular black tea, I think some of their dessert ingredients included rose water, and the tea had similar rose flavoring to it. Do you know what can be added to the black tea to bring out this flavor?
Apologies for intruding.i totally agree. I’ve tried many years to recreate the perfect tea & here’s my own experience!
Firstly, use Ceylon tea from middle Eastern shops, the bigger leaf ones are better. Add rosewater from middle Eastern shops (not all are good though & you need to rrt different ones to see which ones are good (1&1, & mostly Lebanese ones are better). I also add a few cardamom pods, a few twigs of cinnamon plus the best part, 3-4 strands of saffron (this makes a world of difference). I add 4 teaspoons for about 750ml of water, but you have to experiment with that to get the desired strength. I like it medium strength & the colour shown above. I brew it in Thermos flask but am trying to find a better way. I found this idea here for the teapot/mug warmer. So will be trying that now.
Hi Ambica, adding a few dried culinary rose petals at the same time that you’re adding the black tea leaves will steep the rose petals and give it a rose flavor. Rose petals are sold in Persian and Middle Eastern markets. The authentic culinary rose is Gol Mohammadi, also called Damask Rose, and has a nice rose scent.
Hello dear, I have a big question that I have tried to find the answer, but it is impossible so I very much hope that you can help me!?! I am Persian myself, and I lived in Iran for a couple of years in my childhood, I remember the grown ups drinking a kind of tea (only on special occasions, like if there were guests or so..) and this special tea was sooo beautiful!!! I have never tasted it because as I said I was only a little girl, but it look liked this : the tea cup was kind of 2-colored, the bottom was reddish/dark, and the water was kind of floating above in the top of the tea cup..! And of course when you stir in it it, the water would get blended with the tea/color in the bottom of the tea cup..! PLEASE: can you possibly tell me what it is called? And if possible (and kindly) give me the recipe for this beautiful tea ?
Thank you very much in advance
Sincerely Sayeh Ranjbar-Darestani
Hello Sayeh jan, the tea you’re talking about is called “chaii Shirin,” which means sweet tea! I’m going to add an update to the above post and explain the technique to make this tea. However, the two colored sweet tea that I remember has the sugar water in the bottom and dark tea on top. Thank you for your comment and for reminding me of this fun childhood memory 😉
Salam dear Homa, thank you for your beautiful effort and devotion in this blog. I love reading it.
One question; what can I do to get my black tea beautifully redish color like those traditional teas in Iran?
Salam Sepideh jan, I’m very glad that you’re enjoying my blog; thank you! A few important points about tea are: Use a good quality black tea without a lot of dust in the leaves. The brew time varies for different brands of tea and it can take anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes, but stay on the longer side. The brew temperature should be hot enough to keep the tea as hot as the boiling water that it is made with, without boiling it. Hard water forms an oily film on top of the brewed tea and a good quality bottled water is your best bet unless you’re lucky enough to live in an area with good water source. Another point worth mentioning is that even though the reverse osmosis improves the quality of drinking water, it makes the brewed tea very pale. I hope these suggestions help.
finally! a recipe for persian tea with exact measurements and brewing time. many others I have read so far only say to “use a pinch” or “some tea” … and the persian friends I asked also only gave very vague answers, like it is something you just know how to do 🙂 thank you!
Dear Anra, so happy to have you here! I do appreciate your desire for exact measurements and clear instructions in recipes; I’ve never been a fan of “some of this”, “a pinch of that” either 😉
I hope you try and enjoy the other recipes on my blog. Please keep in touch, thanks for writing to me!
Oh, I have just discovered your web site and recipes. I love them! My best friend is Persian and I always enjoy the food she cooks. For a recent brunch she made KooKoo, which I love. I’m planning on making your Persian raisen cookies for her as a gift for Ayyam-I-Ha, the Baha’i celebration leading up to the Fast on March 1. Thank you for publishing your recipes.
Welcome Bernadette, so good to have you here. The raisin cookies will be a wonderful gift; I think your friend will love them. Please keep in touch and write me back with your kitchen adventures when you try my recipes.
Jezzi Knight says
I was so glad to find this site. I am not Persian, but some of my best friends are. I am a ‘foodie’ and started finding recipes and books of your wonderful food, spices and culture. I have learned so much! I have always loved Mediterranean and Middle eastern food, these Persian recipes are just so good! And beautiful, like your people. Thank you for sharing. ~Jezzi
Dear Jezzi, welcome to my blog; this is a foodie heaven with many delicious foods and desserts to try. Please enjoy and write to me with your cooking adventures when you try my recipes. Happy spring 🙂
Hala Chitori…I happily discovered your site while performing a search on an unrelated topic. Nice surprise for me. I started learning to make Persian food when the cookbooks were extremely difficult to find and mostly in Farsi. A persian friend helped me choose one and helped me with translation of what she said were the good ones.w With her help and a going to a couple of good Persian restaraunts I learned more and more and am told I make them well. But I still want to know way more.
Now, of course, more recipies can be found in English, the only trouble is that they are often the same well known dishes again and again.
While I haven’t yet fully completed searching your site I like your approach and have already seen that you do include info I usually don’t see. I no longer have access to my favorite or any Persian restaraunts any longer since relocation became a familial necessity for a much longer time than expected. Ultimately causing lost communication with my Persian companions due to timing, divorces, marriages, etc. Not easy to find us ladies once we take on the husband’s name and job relocations. Not to mention things like no permanent home phone and unlisted numbers, crashed cell phones, lost numbers etc.
First couple of boxes were destroyed in a move that included my samovar and beatiful tea sets from(to simplifyI’ll say) the middle east. I haven’t been able to replace any of them. Neither simple or ornate. I have found none on the web anything like I had. Haven’t even found the most simple stove top samivars to place my tea pot on. Have you any merchants with good choices on websites?
Also and very importantly re: soups and garnishes. There is a particular pickle garnish served on a soup that I loved. It’s been long enough ago that I cannot recall if it was served on/with abgoosht or the sabzi aasht soup. Do you know that pickle garnish and with which soup I most likely had it?
Also it’s extremely difficult to get recipies for preserved items and info/lists of best dishes to serve with them.
And especially the fruits preserved whole like figs, tart cherries, etc. Preserved whole or quartered in a syrup and strangely not hideously sweet completely unlike American jams and preserves.
Are any of these kinds of items you can also share with us or even brand names and retailers you know who again sell these thongs on the web?There are few local retailers of these products, usually very little sq. ft. with a much smaller inventory than I had available on the coast.
Of course I would prefer any of your recipies to a massed produced jar, however, it would be great to know what, when, where to buy such things as seasonal availability is an issue throughout most of the U.S.
In the very near future I’m going to have access to a large quantity of figs. Not only would I like to make fabulous whole fig preserves but other Persian and regional dishes far from American recipies.
Additionally I haven’t yet seen any dates/timelines in association with your site. I So Hope it’s Still Active and Growing. It seems there are sites that while posted appear to have little to no activity. I’ll have to spend more time to see what I have yet to find on your site as well as to look forward to seeing what’s new, perhaps even somethings I’ve inquired about from you.
Thanks for creating a site that I consider a step above most in many ways. My best to you and your willingness to share this lovely quisine.
Dear S; welcome to my website! I’m happy that you like my work. I don’t use a samovar on a daily basis anymore, as you can see in the pictures, my tea setup is an electric kettle to boil the water (sold in most kitchen stores, or Costco), a teapot (metal or porcelain, purchased at any Persian, Middle Eastern, or Asian markets), and a mug warmer (Target, ACE hardware). I’m not familiar with any pickle garnish on soups, but there is a mixture of fried onions, dried mint, and butter that is used on Aash e Reshteh (thick herb soup) https://persianmama.com/persian-herb-noodle-soup-aash-reshteh/
There is a Persian grocery store online https://persianbasket.com/ that you might find helpful. I hope I have answered your questions, good luck and happy cooking!
Mr Tea says
Cool post, do you mind if I link to it from my new blog/tea shop?
Its called Lovely Tea Teas? Thanks in advance –
Oliver aka Mr Tea
Hello Oliver, yes a mention of the post with this link back https://persianmama.com/how-to-brew-persian-tea/ will be fine, but the complete post and pictures may not be reposted. Good luck with your new tea blog!
Salman Zaidi says
Ma’am im an Indian, we ve got generally tea leaves from Assam they are very minute pieces of seed. Can u add something to that, so that it can have the taste of iranian tea.. what can we do of this tea seed recepe additionally.?
Hi Salman, I was just reading about Assam tea, and it seems like most breakfast teas, such as Irish breakfast, and English breakfast, are Assam tea and varieties of black tea. I would add some Earl Grey leaves (3 parts black tea, 1 part Earl Grey) and brew as per the instructions in this post. I hope you will like the flavor. Thank you for your comment and have a nice weekend.
I would never recommend using a warmer. The teapot will not get hot enough to properly steep the tea. Always steep tea over boiling water. No need to use a samaver, you can simply use a kettle and place the teapot on top of the kettle the way people in Iran do it. The method mentioned here is used mainly by people outside of Iran who don’t have access to proper tea kettles with a wide enough mouth to hold a tea pot. Just search “Persian tea kettle” and you’ll get the idea.
I’m new to your blog, and I haven’t tried the recipes, but I have enjoyed reading this morning. Your pictures are so pleasing. I went to the Persian Market yesterday to gather the ingredients for Ghormeh Sabzi. It is one of my favorite Persian foods. My day went on and it was too late to make it, and I ordered from my favorite Persian restaurant. It all worked out fabulously because we had too much food, I called my Persian neighbor across the street to see if they wanted dinner. I forgot the dried limes at the market and she gave me four. It’s just the two of us so perhaps she cuts the recipe in half? She told me to crush them in my hands.
I love the Chaii so much that she would bring me cups of hot Chaii 🙂 🙂 For the holidays she bought me a teapot, and great persian tea. A big box! They have two kinds of samavars. One that is huge and electric, and a stop top. I am so thankful for your recipe. I now understand the concentration ratios etc. I’m going to look for a cup warmer or stove top samavar. Thank you for your work of art , this blog. It is filled with love, and the passion to share what is good with the world.
Dear Gail; a warm welcome to you! Delighted to have you here; I’m really touched by your kind words of encouragement! Congratulations for having a great neighbor, a Persian restaurant with delivery, and a Persian market nearby; many people are not as lucky 😉 I love dried limes in ghormeh sabzi and usually use a nut cracker or a meat tenderizer to crush them; four should give you a nice flavor. Taste the khoresh after it’s done and if you prefer, you could supplement with some extra fresh lime juice; cook for another 5 minutes or so to get the flavors incorporated. It’s nice to hear that you’re enjoying our black tea as much as we do 🙂 Thanks so much for writing to me and please keep in touch and let me know when you try any of my recipes.
Hi there, I love your teapot and warmer. Would you kindly share where you purchased them? Thank you!
Thank you dear Mari! I bought the teapot from Iran a few years back, but I have found this one online, that is similar to another stainless steel teapot (32-ounce capacity) that I have and use. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001EO17DA/ref=psdc_367229011_t3_B0006FYO5Q
I have bought the mug warmer from Spoon ‘n Spice which is a kitchen store in our area; don’t know if it’s a chain store or not. However, I’ve found a few online and the Mr. Coffee one seems to be similar to mine and looks like Target might carry it. Another good store to check is Bed Bath & Beyond, or other kitchen specialty stores. Some of the online sites don’t show the dimensions, but the heating area of my warmer is 3 3/4 inches, and the bottom of my teapot is 3 1/2 inches, which fits perfectly on the warmer. Hope you will find them; I’ve been using these for years and I’m extremely happy with the result.
I love your detailed explanations. My question is why Oersians don’t wash the tea 2 or 3 times by pouring 1/2 c of hot water and shaking the teapot before browing it like the Moroccan do? When I told that to my Persian friend she laughed at me and said that nobody in Iran wash the tea…
It weird to me because when you do it, u can see a dirty and disgusting green liquid full of dust coming out from the teapot….
The main goal of this step is to get rid of the components who might keep you awake and would make the tea bitter after 30 min…
So is it true that Persians never wash their tea ? By the way, Moroccans use green tea, usually Gun Powder.
Hello Adnan; It is not unusual to see some fine powder from the crushed black tea leaves, which occurs during the packaging and shipment, but there should not be any dirt or debris in a package of good loose tea! Some people like to pour a small amount of hot water (only once) in the teapot over the tea leaves; they do this to warm up the teapot, and also believe that this gets rid of any tea powder and brews a tastier tea. However, black tea contains caffeine and this can interfere with sleep.
Lois Wooton says
Reading this recipe brought back sweet memories of my two elementary age children having after school tea with my Iranian neighbor when we lived in Tehran in early to mid 1970s. They even became experts at straining their tea through a sugar cube held between their teeth. They were very disappointed when they found out American sugar cubes are too soft for straining. We are all huge tea lovers even still.
Love all the recipes here which have expanded my ability to share true Persian food with my girlfriends beyond the staples I’ve prepared for 40 years.
Dearest Lois, it is great to read your thoughtful comment. I’m glad you’re enjoying my recipes! I love reading stories of Iran. It always amazes me how eager the children are to learn new things! I’m impressed, they have learned a very valuable tea etiquette 😉 I have found a very dense and firm sugar cube brand that I think your children will love to try. It is very much like the Iranian ‘ghand.’ The brand is called Alvand and it is sold in most Iranian markets. You will find the picture in this post: https://persianmama.com/the-brands-that-i-use/
Please take care and keep in touch 🙂
Thank you for your thorough & informative article on Persian tea! I’m in London & can’t find a good small copper or good quality samovar. Hence finally I found your idea of using a teapot/mug warmer! Thank you so much..I just bought one, but I got one with temperature control to make sure it’ll be warm enough. Please can you say which temperature I should keep the tea (I drink it throughout the day…) after brewing it? I’m using a glass teapot. Thank you 🌺
KK so happy you find this post helpful.
The temperature of the mug warmer is about 125-130 F.
The temperature of the hot water that is added when the tea is served should be very hot, near boiling. Some people drink their tea hotter than others so this temp is a matter of preference. Have a great week
cirus faridi says
Farsi nemitonam benevisam. Chaii lahijan naderi kay miayad.
Salam dooste aziz, in website baraye recipe hast va felan chizi baraye foroosh nadarim
Thank you so much for the detailed information, Very helpful!
I would very much like to know how you say “Loose Tea” in Persian?
Is it “چای شل” or “شل برگ” ?
Hi David, glad you find the information helpful. If we don’t mention teabag, it is presumed loose tea and we simply say chai or chai khoshk