• Polymath Weekly

Azerbaijani Tea Tradition

Updated: Nov 22

Served fresh, hot, and strong, to Azerbaijanis, tea is more than just a hot drink on a cold day - especially when we drink it when the weather is almost as hot as the tea itself.


Ceramic kettles, traditional pear-shaped tea glasses, lemon slices and sugar cubes [Photo: Meltem Orujeva]

Over the centuries, as tea (chay in Azerbaijani) evolved to become a local symbol of hospitality, unity and warmth, it has came to be a habit among Azerbaijanis to serve the drink at every occasion. From weddings, small family gatherings to spontaneous guest visits, you can always expect it on the table, be it in a cup or in a traditional armudu (pear-shaped) glass. It fills the room with scents of aromatic black tea leaves brewing, and sometimes, you might even catch notes of thyme and cloves. But, ultimately, the way one brews tea often varies from home to home.


Whereas in some cultures tea is often served with baked goods like cookies and cakes, Azerbaijanis enjoy sides of fruit desserts (that closely resemble jam), sugar cubes and lemon slices.


Modern history


The strong culture of tea in Azerbaijan can also be explained by the role of tea production in the local history. In particular, in the 20th century, Azerbaijani tea industry flourished due to the Soviet influence, after Lankaran, a city in the south of Azerbaijan, was discovered to be ideal for tea cultivation. Though after the fall of the Soviet Union the tea production significantly declined, tea preserved its commercial and cultural value in the country.


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