Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Isupov Aleksey (1889-1957) Tea-house (Source: Karakalpakstan State Museum of Art named after I.V. Savitsky

Tea is the staple drink of Central Asia, and chaikhanas (tea houses) can be found almost everywhere in Uzbekistan full of old men chatting the afternoon away with a pot of tea in the shade.

Tea is always served to a guest immediately after he or she comes into a house. It is offered in a small cup called a piala. As a token of respect for the guest the host fills only one - half of the piala, and then, putting the left hand to his heart, with his right hand holds out this piala to the guest. At the same time the fresh flat round bread is served.

According to tradition a tea is poured from the teapot (that has just been filled with boiling water to brew) into the cup (piala) and returned to the teapot at least three times. The first returning is called "loy", the second "moy" and only after the third time it becomes "choy" or tea. Tea should always be drunk while it is hot. Only in this way it is believed that the full aroma and flavor of the tea emerge.

Uzbekistan holds one of the highest levels of tea consumption per capita in the world – 2.65 kg per capita in annually. By comparison, in Japan consumption is 680 grams and in the USA, 430 grams.

The domestic tea market averages some thirty thousand tons annually. Tea is imported with China holding (about 58%) of the market, then Iran (25%) and in third place Sri Lanka (4%). Tea being also imported into Uzbekistan via the UAE, Georgia, Turkmenistan and Russia.

There are more than thirty companies working in the tea market, with most of the main players being based in Tashkent and Samarkand where imported tea is repacked. These companies produce more than 200 types of tea; from low-grade to branded grades. Leading branded teas in Uzbekistan include “Ahmad”(UK), “Alokozay-tea” (UAE), “Beta”(Turkey), "Jambo" (Kenya) “Impra” (Sri Lanka) and “Weston”, "SAM (Samarqand Tea) and “Tashkent” (all 3 packed in Uzbekistan).

Source: Pavel Benkov (Павел Беньков). Chaihana «Чайхана» 1932 from


The chaikhana (tea-house) is an institution in Uzbekistan. It is where people come to drink tea, talk with friends and relax. Often the chaikhanas are the towns social centre within small communities. They can be quite simple,  just a small group of table/s under a tree in the shade or have a more elabotrate layout located in picturesque surroundings, shaded with trees or vines spreading their branches over a steel or wooden frame next to an aryk (small irrigation canal) or a cozy khauz (pool) full of water.

In every respectable chaikhana in Central Asia the hot green or black tea is served in a porcelain pot (Chianik). Local tea connoisseurs still debate about the merits of black and green tea, however traditionally aromatic green tea is the more popular.

Source: Uzbekistan Today


  1. The 3rd Tea Science Symposium: Focused Mind and Healthy Body – New Studies on Theanine and Tea Flavonoids” held in Bangkok (12 Oct 2009) confirmed that drinking tea daily can help improve your physical and mental well being.

    Symposium discussions and presentations explored three areas of health benefits associated with tea: positive psychological effects, enhanced cognitive performance and cardiovascular health.

    Key findings presented at the 3rd Tea Science Symposium include:

    Tea and enhanced cognitive performance : Studies at the Lipton Institute have shown that drinking black tea can help focus your attention and improve subjective alertness. After a high dose of theanine and caffeine, two actives naturally present in tea, brain attention networks are activated more efficiently.

    This brain activation allows better focus during tasks so we can concentrate harder. Brain activity was measured using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) technology. fMRI is a way to measure brain activity via blood flow while subjects complete a task. The fMRI results in this study showed more efficient brain activity after high dose of tea.

    The Lipton Institute also found that tea has positive psychological effects, showung that a persons mood can be positively impacted by drinking tea, it is also associated with benefits like increased creativity and support to our immune system. Mood enhancement helps us maintain our well being.

    Tea and increased cardio-vascular health : The latest study conducted at the University of L’Aquila in Italy demonstrates that drinking one cup of tea per day significantly improves vascular function. The research, is the first study to confirm black tea consumption deliver a notably better cardiovascular health profile by improving blood vessel reactivity.

    Tea and stroke risk reduction : Researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA have found that daily consumption of tea potentially lowers the risk of ischemic stroke by 21 per cent. Strokes are the second most common cause of death globally. With up to 20 million strokes occurring annually, strokes are also a major cause of disability. Ischemic stroke, which happens when vessels become clogged, account for around 83 per cent of all stroke cases. The study discovered that the health benefits relate to black and green teas but not herbal teas.

    Tea flavonoids help blood vessels to relax. The ability of blood vessels to dilate is critical for a healthy cardiovascular system. When blood vessels cannot relax properly, the risk of cardiovascular disease is increased. The study also shows that only 100 mg per day of tea flavonoids, which is equivalent to less than a single up of tea per day, helps improve the elastic capacity of the blood vessels. This is the first study showing the positive impact of drinking tea on vascular function may be relevant for the majority of people in the world who drink only one or two cups of tea per day, rather than just being relevant for heavy tea drinkers.

    Tea is the second most consumed drink in the world after water, and is a major source of dietary flavonoid intake in Europe and Asia.


    The Chinese have known about the medicinal benefits of green tea for at least 4,000 years, using it to treat everything from headaches to depression.

    In 1994 the Journal of the National Cancer Institute published the results of an epidemiological study indicating that drinking green tea reduced the risk of esophageal cancer in Chinese men and women by nearly sixty percent.

    University of Purdue researchers recently concluded that a compound in green tea inhibits the growth of cancer cells.

    There is also research indicating that drinking green tea lowers total cholesterol levels, as well as improving the ratio of good (HDL) cholesterol to bad (LDL) cholesterol.

    To sum up, here are just a few medical conditions in which drinking green tea is reputed to be helpful:

    The secret of green tea lies in the fact it is rich in catechin polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is a powerful anti-oxidant: besides inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, it kills cancer cells without harming healthy tissue.

    It has also been effective in lowering LDL cholesterol levels, and inhibiting the abnormal formation of blood clots. The latter takes on added importance when you consider that thrombosis (the formation of abnormal blood clots) is the leading cause of heart attacks and stroke.

    Links are being made between the effects of drinking green tea and the "French Paradox." For years, researchers were puzzled by the fact that, despite consuming a diet rich in fat and heavy smoking the French have a lower incidence of heart disease than Americans.

    The answer was found to lie in red wine, which contains resveratrol, a polyphenol that limits the negative effects of smoking and a fatty diet. In a 1997 study, researchers from the University of Kansas determined that EGCG is twice as powerful as resveratrol, which may explain why the rate of heart disease among Japanese men is quite low, even though approximately seventy-five percent are smokers.

    Other Chinese teas have similar health-giving properties? Green, oolong, and black teas all come from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. What sets green tea apart is the way it is processed. Green tea leaves are steamed, which prevents the EGCG compound from being oxidized. By contrast, black and oolong tea leaves are made from fermented leaves, which results in the EGCG being converted into other compounds that are not nearly as effective in preventing and fighting various diseases.

    Other Benefits

    New evidence is emerging that green tea can even help dieters. In November, 1999, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published the results of a study at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. Researchers found that men who were given a combination of caffeine and green tea extract burned more calories than those given only caffeine or a placebo.

    Green tea can even help prevent tooth decay! Just as its bacteria-destroying abilities can help prevent food poisoning, it can also kill the bacteria that causes dental plaque. Meanwhile, skin preparations containing green tea from deodorants to creams - are starting to appear on the market.

    To date, the only negative side effect reported from drinking green tea is insomnia due to the fact that it contains caffeine. However it is a lot less than other similiar beverages. The caffeine content of a cup of green tea depends greatly on the type of tea and how it is prepared. Sources quote anywhere from 15 to 30 mg of caffeine in a cup of green tea. Regular tea contains between 30 and 60 mg. A can of Coke contains 34 mg. Instant coffee contains between 65 and 100 mg. Drip filtered coffee can contain up to 200 mg.