Saturday, 10 October 2009
Tonight, Husband was watching Babylon A.D. with Vin Diesel. As he pointed out afterwards, the only good thing about that movie is that it was free.
There is no point living in denial: autumn is here. It is getting cold and gorgeous outside, leaves turning golden and auburn. Perfect time for a good cuppa, as the English would say.
Tea is quite important for both Azeries and the English. For both nations, drinking tea is a significant tradition.
On my mother’s first trip to the UK, we were visiting my then future in-laws.
After a few days, mother decided it was time to stop acting like a guest, and make tea for us all. She went to the kitchen and put the kettle on.
Fortunately, I caught her just in time. In a proper Azeri style, she made chay with zavarka.
Zavarka is basically a very strong brew, which is made in a small tea pot. The pot is then placed on a heat diffuser, over a small fire, and left to sit there for a few minutes. When ready, zavarka gets diluted in individual cups by freshly boiled water. Which works fantastically well if you take your tea black.
However, adding milk on top of the already diluted tea creates a repulsive looking milky-grey watery solution. I quickly poured it all out.
But I have to say, I do miss Azeri chay.
First of all, whenever I visit someone in the UK, they forget that I take my tea black and serve it white anyway. It is a very unnatural thing for the Brits to not add milk in tea. I then appear all fussy and weird when I explain that there is no way I could drink that. I feel rude, but have to ask for them to make me another cup.
I blame my childhood. My grandmother had Tatar roots, and believed in the ancient powers of tatar-chay. Every time I had a bit of cold, she insisted I drunk up that disgusting mixture of a strong tea, full fat milk, chopped bread and some butter. Served in a large bowl, like a soup.
But it is not the milk that is my problem. Tea here is just boring. Take a tea bag, put it in a cup, add water. Where is the skill and thrill in that? Even the new trendy brands, like teapigs, are just not the same. Nobody, even my in-laws, bother with proper tea leaves anymore.
So, imagine how much I look forward to visiting my Azeri friends, who are just so good at brewing that special, gorgeous Azeri chay. (Using Indian or Iranian tea leaves, of course.)
I watch them working their magic over a little pot, mixing in not only different types of leaves but also spices, black peppercorns, thyme and whatever else only they seem to know about. (Every single chay-maker I know has his own special little chay secret.)
I, on the other hand, having got lazy using Twinings tea bags every day, am just left to silently admire their talents.
My mother is going back home soon, so I asked my dad if there was anything specific he would like me to send with her.
-Oh, -he said- I would love some ‘proper’ tea please! Some real Assam and Ceylon from England!
I guess, tea is always greener on the other side.