Not long ago I have bought a friend a box of tea from Uzbekistan that made me dig in to find out more about it. Tea in Uzbekistan is called the hospitality drink and not surprisingly it plays a prominent role in everyday lives of Uzbek people until this day.
In Uzbekistan tea is served all through the day and it carries a symbolic meaning: tea is poured three times into a cup and then back into the teapot so that it brews up very well until the real taste. These three repetitive gestures symbolize clay (loy), fat (moy) and water or tea (tchai).
Chaikhanas – typical teahouses – have been appreciated for centuries since they first invited travelers for a stop along the Silk Road. Back then restaurants were yet to be invented, so chaikhanas were those first restaurants offering to sleep, to eat and to drink a cup of tea after a long road. Chaikhanas are usually decorated with suzanis which is an old traditional fabric art in making bed covers, hangings, table covers, wrapping cloths or prayer mats. I don’t know if it still holds true, but it’s said that you should take off your shoes before entering chaikhana and sit down cross-legged to drink your tea – with no milk or sugar, but wild almonds and pistachio nuts.
Not only long history traditions of tea drinking, but also the meaning of bringing community together speak of this huge importance of tea as a drink in Uzbek culture. I guess this is why tea got the label of hospitality drink which should be appreciated in small sips taking one’s time.
While reading about this tea, I have come across one nice quote I’d like to finish with:
Tea is a long talk of good people.