Tucked in an alleyway of the Grand Bazaar, wedged between a clothes shop and the door of a mosque, Kazem Mabhutian 's 1.5-square-metre chaikhaneh (tea house) is invisible from the main street. Yet it is the most famous among tea connoisseurs in Tehran.
With his trimmed beard, red scarf and bronze-coloured waistcoat, Kazem Mabhutian serves a steady stream of customers in the smallest and oldest teahouse in Tehran, but at 63 years old, he is counting on God to find him a successor.
And yet it is the most famous among tea connoisseurs in the Iranian capital.In between pouring glasses of steaming brew for his customers, Mabhutian tells the century-old story of the fabled Haj Ali Darvish Tea House with pride.His father Haj Ali Mabhutian, nicknamed the Dervish or Beheshti, or "He who deserves paradise", was born in Hamedan in western Iran, he says.
"He came to Tehran at the age of 15 to earn a living. He bought this shop from Haj Hassan who had opened it in 1918."Arranged around him are cups and teapots, boxes of tea and a samovar water-heater. There is an antiquated radio, a paraffin lamp, statuettes of dervishes, and gold-coloured sticks of Nabat, a saffron-scented barley sugar.
On the wall, a tourism ministry certificate assures that the place "is part of the intangible heritage of the national culture".- 'Tea of kindness' -Aside from the traditional Iranian black tea, Mabhutian prepares cardamon, cinnamon, mint, thyme and hibiscus brews every day from 7:30 am. headtopics.com
But his favourite is his signature "tea of kindness", a mixture of mint, lemon and saffron which gives it a zesty yellow colour.Business is usually steady: experts say that Iranians consume an average of nine small glasses of tea a day, or 100,000 tonnes nationwide every year.
"Until 2007, my father ran this house, known as the smallest in the world," said Mabhutian. "Then he broke his leg and never returned to work. He stayed at home until his death in 2018 at the age of 92."Story continuesKazem then left his advertising agency job and took over the business.
"I don't regret it at all," he said. "Advertising was a business, but this is a question of love. I chose this job with my heart, not for the money."On the menu, the price of a cup of tea is listed at 100,000 rials (35 cents), but "the rates are not fixed," he said. "It depends on the financial situation of the customer."
Every day he serves some 200 customers."Most of them come from outside the market because they know us," he said."There used to be a lot of tourists too, because this shop was in the guidebooks, but the foreigners disappeared with the pandemic." headtopics.com
- 'Made with love' -Given the miniature size of the teahouse, there are no tables, but customers can pull up a plastic stool outside, amid the bazaar's bustle.Seated there was Shafagh, a 32-year-old graphic designer, with her friend Forough, 47.
"Everyone sells tea, but the important thing is to know how to make it," said Shafagh, enjoying a cup of kindness tea."It's like cooking -- when someone makes tea with love, it tastes completely different."Forough chimed in that "I also come to chat with the owner. I think his tea is nothing like the tea served in other places".
Every weekday, Habibollah Sayadi, 70, leaves his nearby clothing shop to enjoy his Iranian black tea."I'm a regular -- I've been coming here for almost 50 years because I love the taste of his tea," he said, adding approvingly that "Mr Kazem respects hygiene" in times of Covid.
Mabhutian, the owner, is getting on in years and is still single, so does he worry about what will become of his beloved shop in future?"Not at all," he said confidently. "God will find me a successor. A place like this one does not die." headtopics.comRead more: Yahoo Singapore »
Community testing still shows high Covid-19 infection rate, S’pore nowhere near peak of epidemic curve: MOH
SINGAPORE — Covid-19 testing in the community for those who go to clinics with acute respiratory infections or flu-like illnesses continues to detect a high proportion of infections, suggesting that Singapore is “not anywhere near the peak of the epidemic curve yet, nor are the community cases yet on the wane”.
Daniel Maldini scores for AC Milan to continue family traditionOne of Italian football's most famous names returned to a Serie A scoresheet, when Daniel Maldini netted in a 2-1 win for AC Milan over Spezia on his first league start for the club yesterday morning (Singapore time). The 19-year-old followed in the footsteps of his father...
Son, Hwang named in South Korea's World Cup qualifying squadEnglish Premier League-based duo Son Heung-min and Hwang Hee-chan have been included in South Korea's squad for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Syria and Iran.Paulo Bento's side host the Syrians on Oct. 7 before travelling to Tehran to meet Group A leaders Iran five days later at the Azadi Sta
Johnson thrives in elder statesman role for US Ryder Cup teamKOHLER, Wisconsin : Dustin Johnson may have been the oldest member of the triumphant U.S. Ryder Cup team on Sunday, but the stoic American showed the way for a rookie-filled squad as he dominated in a way rarely seen at the biennial team event.The 37-year-old Johnson went 5-0 at Whistling Straits to join