By Laman Ismayilova
Tea is a beloved drink all over the world. In many cultures it is much more than a drink. It is a ritual with both personal and social significance.
The Second International Tea Festival opened at Sheraton Baku Airport Hotel on October 20.
The event was co-organized by the National Culinary Association and the Azerbaijan Culinary Center.
The Tea Festival was timed to International Chefs Day and the 90th anniversary of the World Organization of Culinary.
The tea traditions of Azerbaijan, Japan, Turkey, China, India, Russia, Uzbekistan and other countries were presented at the festival,Trend Life reported.
Guests of the event had a great opportunity to enjoy various varieties of tea, as well as try national dishes and sweets of the participating countries.
A forum of culinary specialists was held as part of the festival.
Addressing the event, President of the National Culinary Association, the head of the National Culinary Center Tahir Amiraslanov stressed that the state pays special attention and care to the development of national culinary.
Azerbaijani cuisine is highly valued by foreign guests in other countries, the preparations of Azerbaijani bread lavash and the traditional meal dolma are included in the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
President of the National Culinary Association believes that the love of tea unites the peoples of the whole world.
"When having a cup of fragrant, tart tea it is always more pleasant to have heart-to-heart talks. This little family joy is shared with Azerbaijanis all over the world. Strong, fragrant tea energizes, relieves from thirst and gives strength," said Amiraslanov.
He also told about the implementation of many projects and the success of Azerbaijani chefs in the international arena.
Rector of the Azerbaijan University of Tourism and Management Ilham Madatov, head of the primary vocational education sector of the Ministry of Education Nigar Ismayilzade, representative of the State Agency for Tourism Sakina Asgarova, Indian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Sanjay Rana, Moldova’s ambassador to Azerbaijan Gheorghe Leuke, well-known actors Sugra Bagirzade and Kubra Aliyeva spoke at the event and highly appreciated the holding of the festival, which allows peoples to show their national customs and traditions, promotes closer intercultural dialogue.
Further, the winners of the Second Republican Championship of cooks among students of secondary vocational schools were awarded cups and honorary diplomas.
During the festival, the event participants shared the secrets of tea making.
Tea occupies a special place in Azerbaijani culture. If you visit the Land of Fire , you should definitely taste its tea.
Tea is associated with warmth and friendliness, therefore, the tradition says that one should not allow the guest to leave the house without having at least one cup of tea.
There are unique ceremonies in many cultures concerning the preparation and drinking of tea.
A tea ceremony in Azerbaijan means freshly brewed, strong, bright-color, hot tea served in cups or crystal glasses, in particular, "armudu glass" i.e. "pear-shaped glass". The drink is served continuously when there are guests in the house or when there is an interesting conversation. Generally, tea is poured into ceramic and china dishes. Water is boiled in various ways, in particular, in heated metal containers known as samovars.
Leyla Mammadova, a teacher at Baku's professional lyceum No. 18, told Day.az that Azerbaijan was represented at the festival with different types of tea from Lankaran and Astara.
Azerbaijani cooks also brought several types of jam to the festival: nut, watermelon, quince, cherry and even olive, as well as national dishes.
The deputy head of the National Culinary Center of Azerbaijan, Jeyran Asgarova, said that Chefs Day in Azerbaijan is celebrated for the 11th time. The holiday was celebrated at the suggestion of Azerbaijan at the World Congress.
The Japanese tea ceremony (Cha-no-yu), which is also called "Sadou" or "Chadou" is a very significant ritual that has a lot of meaning within the culture.
In Japan, tea ceremony represents purity, harmony and respect.
Tea called Sencha is the most popular type of green tea, it contains less caffeine and tannin than other green tea varieties. It helps to improve concentration and stimulates brain activity.
Two weeks before harvest, the leaves are covered to protect them from the sun's rays. Thus, the tea retains its freshness, and the leaves have a rich dark green color. At the same time, the leaves are saturated with amino acids and the tea gets a sweet taste. For proper cooking, it’s better to use Japanese teapot, which is called kyusu. Japanese sencha can be brewed again, but not more than three times, but the first tea leaves are always tastier and more fragrant.
Then, the Japanese participants showed the powdered matcha tea, made from tencha tea, which is crushed on special stone millstones. It contains many vitamins and antioxidants.
India is the second largest producer of tea in the world after China
At the festival, the country was represented by Barbara Rana, spouse of Indian Ambassador Sanjay Rana. She stressed that the tea culture of India is personified by samosa - delicious triangular shaped pies. They are filled with vegetables, meat as well as spices such as ginger, cumin, pepper, etc.
Pakora, a traditional Indian dish, was also presented at the festival. It can be made from vegetables, chicken, Indian cheese and also from bread.
Tea is an extremely significant part of Russian culture.
For the first time four pounds of tea were brought to Russia in 1638 by the Russian ambassador Starikov as a gift from the Mongol Khan for the Russian sovereign of Moscow Michail Fyodorovich.
The representative of Rossotrudnichestvo in Azerbaijan Nargiz Abasguliyeva shared interesting details about Russian tea drinking.
"The peculiarity of Russian tea drinking, above all, was the rich decoration of the table. An essential attribute of the tea drinking ceremony in Russia was always samovar, which is not a simple kitchen utensil, it is treated with special respect, and it appeared in Russia thanks to Peter the Great," she said.
Altai honey, Polish gingerbread, drying, various types of chocolates were presented at the Russian table.
Tea was and remains a central piece in the Asian cultures, especially in China where it first originated. There are black, blue, green, white types of teas in China, distinguished mainly by different methods of production.
Chinese people usually drink tea without sweets. Most often salted peanuts and seeds can be served for tea.
The tea ceremony usually takes place to the sounds of hulusi, bamboo flute with a closed bottom.
Chinese representatives brought one of the best varieties of green tea to the the Tea Festival - Longjing tea. It sometimes called by its literal translated name Dragon Well tea, is a variety of pan-roasted green tea from the area of Longjing Village in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province,
Longjing tea is rich in vitamin C, amino acids and catechins and other beneficial substances that slow down the aging of the body. Chinese doctors believe that regular consumption of this tea is good for the lungs. Longjing tea is poured with water at a temperature of about 85 degrees.
It is claimed the real taste of Longjing is achieved only by using Yixing clay teapot and glass teacups.
Tea begins and ends any meal in Uzbekistan. A spokeswoman for the Uzbek Embassy in Azerbaijan, Shahida Mehdiyeva, said that a ceramic vessel was used to brew tea, which was first rinsed with boiling water for heating.
She noted that Uzbekistan mainly uses green tea number 95, which has both refreshing and healing properties.
At the tea festival, Uzbekistan delighted the guests of the festival with chak-chak (oriental sweet), Uzbek katlama (cake) as well as chuchvara, small fried Uzbek dumplings, which differ from the usual Russian dumplings and Azerbaijani dushbara not only in smaller size, but also in the way they are served. Various greens, pumpkins, potatoes can serve as fillings.
Laman Ismayilova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Lam_Ismayilova
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