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I embarked on my tea journey when I studied abroad in China in 2008 and traveled around Taiwan that summer. I'm here to share my experiences and offer my own opinion, advice, and comments on tea.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tea in Azerbaijan

Being in a huge tea-drinking culture here in Azerbaijan, I figure it’s worth it to discuss my tea related adventures here. Black CTC tea is the norm here, over steeped throughout the day and diluted heavily with hot water. There are cayxanas (tea houses) everywhere, but it’s a men only space where they drink tea, smoke, and play backgammon. Drinking over steeped and diluted black tea abhors me as a Chinese tea drinker, but I’ve come to terms with it. I don’t see it as “tea,” but as a beverage. People here suck on sugar cubs to sweeten their tea, so it’s not surprisingly that anyone over the age of 25 probably has at least two gold teeth. I’m madly in love with my host mother’s home-made grape flavored sugar cubes, so I indulge in that every once in a while.

The tea is drunk from handle-less glasses on to of saucers. Sometimes the tea is too ht, so it’s poured from the glass and into the saucer, and then it’s drunk. I usually drink dozens of cups of tea this way, especially if I’m visiting as a guest.

A side-effect of my Peace Corps service is my isolation from the tea community. Although I can technically catch up on blogs, none of it is relative to my life here. My pots are at home, and I have no way of sampling tea. Just getting samples here would be such a pain. Also, life here is just too damn busy for a gong fu session of tea. I’ve been drinking medium roast Dong Ding, as well as a bunch of shu. I fear I’m losing my tea palette, and when I go to China after Peace Corps I won’t be able to judge young sheng anymore. I still remember what is good sheng, but I’m afraid that I won’t be able to compare. Maybe I should get the samples of sheng I have at home sent over, just so I can keep in practice.

But unfortunately the tea world is moving on without me, so I have no clue about the state of young puerh right now, and I’m afraid when I go back I’ll be out of the loop. So for any people who still read my blog…what’s going on with puerh these days? What new stuff has been good that I should look out for when I come back.