Growing up half-Iraqi meant a lot of tea in my house, for Iraqis are truly obsessed with the stuff. While I grew up drinking all kinds of tea, and still do, the style associated with Iraq in particular is an extension of the Russian-Turkish-Iranian samovar-brewed tea, in which a tea concentrate (in Russian zavarka, in Arabic no idea) is brewed in a teapot and slowly steamed on top of either the boiler of a samovar, or a kettle on which the teapot sits. Iraq is the only Arab country to brew tea like this, likely an impact of centuries of Ottoman and Persian influence; however, Iraqis drink tea far stronger than Turks and especially Iranians - the tea in Turkey comes close, but the Iraqi stuff is truly powerful.
To make it, Ceylon tea is preferred - I'm constantly trying new brands but so far my favorite is Alwazah FBOP1, available at many Middle Eastern shops. An inordinate amount of tea is put in the pot (I put about 6 tablespoons for a full teapot that holds about 700-800 ml), and I then place the pot on top of the opening of the kettle to heat up as the water in the kettle comes to the boil. When the water has boiled, pour some into the kettle, give it a stir then place it back on top of the kettle (which should still have a lot of water in it). Put the kettle to medium-low heat, so that the water simmers and produces steam, which will heat the teapot. Let the tea brew for at least 15 minutes, the longer the better.
After 15 or so minutes, depending on how strong you want your tea to be, fill a small glass anywhere from 1/3 to 2/3 full with tea concentrate, and top off with simmering water. When more than half full especially, the tea is drunk very sweet, as sugar is needed to balance the intense taste of the tea. Traditionally, you would serve your guest as follows: put the tea glass on a saucer, put sugar (two teaspoons at least, though I find this exceptionally sweet) in the glass first, then pour tea concentrate and top off with hot water. Then place a small teaspoon into the tea, but do not stir to dissolve the sugar - at this point give everything to your guest for him or her to stir and enjoy.
When made properly, with the right glassware, it should look something like this:
When served at an Iraqi restaurant or teahouse, the tea will be a few shades darker, and will come with a thick layer of un-dissolved sugar at the bottom, and of course will have the spoon sticking in the tea.
People that have been to Turkey or had tea at Turkish restaurants may notice a similarity, and the two styles are identical except for the increased strength of the Iraqi style, and the fact that Turkish tea is served with sugar cubes on the side. When I write that the stuff is strong, I'm not kidding - it's like the tea equivalent of espresso, and two of those glasses at full strength (filled 2/3 of the way or not more) have me wired as much as a couple shots. Great stuff!
Edit: I forgot to say, if you don't have a samovar or a kettle that will accommodate a teapot placed on top, you can heat the teapot on EXTREMELY low heat on your stove. This is sort of what teahouses in Iraq seem to do (based on pictures), and it actually simmers the tea, which lends to the atomic strength that Iraqi teahouse tea is famous for
Edited by Hassouni, 04 October 2011 - 04:32 PM.