In case you didn’t know – tea is the most popular drink in Iran, however if you are there, it might be wise to know what you’re drinking.
Tea in Iran, is not what it seems. And here is why.
For some time, Iran has been storing expired tea in the country, to be used as compost and fertilizer. This just might be the tea you’re drinking!
The tea was stored in the first place, because the Iranians themselves didn’t like its taste. Thus, the country has been storing thousands tons of domestic tea in warehouses since the 2000’s, because it wasn’t popular among the general population.
Iran’s ILNA news agency quoted Zubin Amiri, an Iranian tea producer, that after 7-8 years of being stored, the outdated tea was sold very cheap at local tenders.
So what happened then?
This tea was purchased in large quantities by Iranian merchants, exported to countries like UAE, and after some “tuning”, it was imported back into Iran and sold to general public. Yes, the expired tea was sold again in the local markets.
UAE ranks among top five tea exporters to Iran. Iran itself produces both black and green tea.
Zubin Amiri claims the outdated tea was sold for 7-18 cents per kilogram, while the fertilizer price at the market stood between 33-52 cents per kilogram.
The merchants exported the outdated tea, added some flavor supplements to it, re-packaged it as “high quality foreign tea” and sold it in Iran.
Was it worth it? It did – packaging of the “foreign tea” in UAE costs only 56 cents per kilogram, and in Iran the same product is sold for $11-12 per kilogram.
About 30,000 tons of tea is manufactured in Iran per year, and some 7,500 tons of that amount is consumed in the domestic market.
Experts in Iran say that expired tea is dangerous to health, as it causes digestive diseases. In fact, using expired tea is actually banned in Iran, and the factories are not permitted to process it. And yet – the local merchants are making money on it.
There is no figure on how much of tea on Iran’s market is really expired tea, but packaged as “foreign tea”, thus one has to be careful with this drink.
The history of tea culture in Iran dates back to the late 15th century. Prior to tea becoming popular in the Islamic Republic, Iran’s main beverage was coffee. But, most of the countries producing coffee were located far from Iran, making shipments difficult to deliver.
With a major tea producing country, China, located on a nearby trading path, “the silk road”, and the shipping of tea was much easier. This was a major reason for tea becoming popular in Iran. As a result, the demand for tea grew, and more tea needed to be imported to match Iran’s consumption.