There is something that one cannot exclude when discussing Iranian habits or food. And it is the famous tea, of course. But during my trip to Iran, I realized that while tea is an absolutely essential part of everyday life, so are other drinks. Here are some of the drinks that I came across during my trip to Iran!
One does not simply start an article about Iranian drinks without first discussing the tea. I knew that tea was an important part of everyday life in Iran before traveling there, but I really had no idea about the amount of tea that I was about to consume. I had an average of 15 cups per day (three for breakfast, three before lunch, three after lunch, three before dinner, three after dinner), but my record was probably at least twice that number. Unsweetened, sweetened, or with a couple of sugar cubes to chew on the side. Always black.
The fact that I do not actually like tea was something that I quickly had to put aside – refusing tea is NOT acceptable behavior in Iran! And I have to admit that I came to enjoy tea time. It is a time when the whole family (and all guests, meaning me) gather together on the fluffy carpet in the living room to lean against the embroidered cushions and discuss whatever has happened over the course of the day. Despite my limited Farsi vocabulary, I was always included in these discussions, and was of course also frequently the main object of discussion. In my mind, boiling teakettles are now associated with laughter, smiles and the hospitality of Iranian families.
I also feel that I need to mention another activity that frequently happens during tea time: the investigation of phones. It came to my attention that this is something that families often do – they exchange phones and expect you to guide them through whatever exciting bits and pieces you might have there, be it photos, videos, messages, or games (games and photos are preferred). This was definitely something very new to me (we do not exchange phones in this way in Sweden), but I found myself doing the same at the end of the trip! Since the internet and phone service were often down during the days of my trip, challenging my hosts in game tournaments on their own phones became a common and cherished activity.
However, it turns out that tea is not the only omnipresent drink in Iran. In fact, it has a close contestant – doogh! Doogh is a yogurt drink that is frequently consumed with meals, and can be found in many different versions: natural or carbonated, and sometimes with mint flavor or cucumber pieces. It is a drink that is almost as loved as tea, and even if it is almost a little too sour for my Scandinavian taste buds, it became one of my favorites. It is served with any type of savory food, and can be bought in giant plastic bottles.
It is similar to the ayran of Turkey, and exists in many forms across Central Asia and the eastern parts of the Middle East.
Here’s something else that I had a lot of – juice! Juice in little packages, juice in small or giant bottles, juice in cans, and best of all – freshly squeezed juice. There are whole stores in Tehran that sell nothing but freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice! Ah, the glory. This particular one was my favorite canned juice. It contains chunks of fruit and is very flavorful, without being too sweet. This is pineapple flavor, but the peach one was even more delicious.
I was often given chocolate milk to drink in the morning – especially during road trips. Breakfast would then consist of sunflower seeds, roasted almonds, a piece of cake, and a carton of chocolate milk. I was originally planning to say that chocolate milk was not the most Iranian drink that I tried during my trip, but I decided to scratch that. Because who am I to judge which drinks are “Iranian”?
Anyhow, since I am a big fan of both milk and chocolate, this drink brings back nothing but happy memories from my road trip around northern Iran. It tastes like any other chocolate milk, and is perfectly delicious.
All photos taken by me on an iPhone.
This is the end of my food in Iran series for now. But no promises. More photos might come!