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When travelling throughout Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and to a lesser extent, Kazakhstan last year as a guest I was always offered tea, or chai. It was typically black, sometimes green, in a bowl.

Some information on this site here

What I want to know is - what tea was it? That is, now that I'm in a western country (Canada) - if I wanted to buy it to drink, what would I even start to search for? It's clearly not Earl Grey, or Oolong, or Rooibos - but "chai" is a little too generic, just meaning tea.

At the time I told myself I'd happily start drinking it instead of coffee, so I'd love to see if it's still as tasty when I'm sitting in a cubicle...

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Not only the quality of tea is important, but also the way it is prepared. Samovar is an essential tool. –  mouviciel Jun 5 '12 at 4:38
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4 Answers 4

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According to my friend from Fergana

The Teas that they used to drink were primarily of 2 varieties:

The current tastes and varieties may vary and though the ceremonies remain the same. If you are ever in New York City you can visit Rego Park in Queens where there is a lot of people from former Central Asian Republics (Primarily Uzbekistan) that can probably give you a better view on the modern varietals of teas being used and there are traditions on brewing tea that vary from family to family and area to area and not just in additives.

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yes, different blends, local varieties not exported elsewhere. In different parts of Uzbekistan tea could taste and look quite distinct when I visited there a few years ago, certainly more so than during the Soviet era when everything was monoculture dumped into large mixers in packaging plants. –  jwenting Apr 12 '13 at 6:15
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Indian or Ceylon tea is very popular in the post-USSR countries. Here's an example. The black varieties taste different from what we know in the Western world. I find it to be close to the Earl Grey tea. Generally in the USSR they didn't have varieties, they had colors of the packaging: golden Indian tea and green Indian tea (both blacks, I'm not familiar with the green tea varieties).

It is indeed very tasty, much better than most of the "standard-issue" teas you'll find in your average Canadian/US supermarket.

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Well, there is a phrase: "If you don't drink the tea, where your power come from?" (in Russian it's much more poetic :).

The process of drinking the tea is realy a huge part of culture and traditions in Central Asia. Generally, most popular is a various sorts of green tea. It's been prepared for a 5 minutes, with additional heating. The cafes there are called "Chaihana", and you can easy understand why :)

Also you should note that every people can add some herbs in the tea during preparing. This can be even a family secret, and I doubt you can repeat the same taste. Another side is the dishes you drink the tea from. Traditionaly one uses the piyāla:
enter image description here
First and second ones count as preparing, and only third is assumed as real drink.

So the only way to achieve the taste of tea from Uzbekistan - learn some traditions, and prepare the tea by yourself.

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+1 for the first sentence - I didn't know that before! –  Andrew Grimm Jun 5 '12 at 11:11
    
Don't remember the original did you mean: "Если чаю не пить откуда сила возьмется?" –  Karlson Jun 5 '12 at 16:11
    
@Karlson "Чай не пьёшь - откуда силы берёшь?" –  VMAtm Jun 6 '12 at 6:17
    
Doesn't really answer the question. It is related to preparation but you failed to mention tea types and I believe that's what OP is looking for. –  John Doe Jun 6 '12 at 9:39
    
@rlesko I mentioned the green tea. What exactly - it depends. Thats only I wanted to mention. –  VMAtm Jun 6 '12 at 10:16
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Ahmed Tea is very popular in the Central Asian republics/Azerbaijan, it's a British tea company that should be readily available. Most of my friends (and I myself) use this tea. They also drink a lot of granulated tea in Kazakhstan, or at least the family I lived with did. Kazakhstan usually drinks tea black and with or without milk.

There are also several ways to prepare it. Samovar/zavarka, straight pot (with or without milk) like at the restaurants, or single serving (rare).

Hope this helps.

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