Tea Customs of Iraq
In Iraq, tea is a way of life and a social bond that ties everyone together. Teahouses are a central gathering place for all men. These establishments known as “Chaikhana” (Chai being tea and “khana” a word in Urdu used for “food”, “eating” or “eating place”) are standing for hundreds of years, even next to UNESCO heritage sites, playing a central role in the social life of the Iraqis. It is the oasis men come to discuss politics, talk about news and play dominos. Teahouses in Iraq have played a major role in main turning points of the country, housing men who went to war and being a heart of a place for all sorts of people – artists, clerics, politicians, labourers, intellectuals, and anyone who’d simply wander in.
The home stove would always be on with the samovar boiling, and tea is ready at a moment’s notice prepared by the women of the house, but the tradition was for them not to be allowed into the teahouses. It is encouraging to see this ritual changing now; Baghdad, Erbil, or Sulaymaniyah, in every corner of the city there is now a teahouse with some tables reserved for the fairer sex.
Iraqis enjoy their tea with a variety of cookies such as cardamom cookies known as “Hadgi Badah”, date cookies called “Kleicha” and lauzinaj, seemingly an Iraqi version of the Baklava.
Having tea as more than just a drink, Iraq has bought record numbers of tea from Sri Lanka; in 2018 they ordered 32,979 Tonnes of tea, emerging the largest buyer from Sri Lanka.