Every time I visited the north of Iran, the natural beauties of tea plantations and their endless green made my heart sing. A couple of years ago when I visited the Lahijan’s tea history museum, a remarkable large painting of the tea plantation caught my eyes. This is my painting of that beautiful piece of art from the museum.
If you’re interested, here is a little history about how tea cultivation started in Iran at the end of the 15th century. Before that coffee was the most popular beverage in Iran. However, access to coffee was difficult because the majority of coffee producing countries were too far away from Iran. On the other hand, China who had the major production of tea, and located on a nearby trading path, the Silk Road, made the shipping of tea in Iran much easier. As a result, the demand for tea grew in Iran; however, Iran failed in their first attempt to cultivate tea with seeds from India in 1882. In 1899 Prince Mohammad Mirza known as “Kashef Al Saltaneh” who was born in Lahijan, imported tea and started its cultivation in Lahijan. Kashef, who was the first mayor of Tehran and an Iranian ambassador to India under British rule, knew that the British would not allow him to learn the secrets of tea production, as it was their biggest business in India at the time. So being fluent in French, the prince pretended to be a French laborer and started to work in the tea plantations and factories to learn how to produce tea. Ultimately, his plan was to take back some samples of this tea to Iran to cultivate. He was successful in this endeavor only because of his diplomatic immunity, which stopped the British from searching his secretly stashed sample. At the time, Kashef brought 3000 saplings into his country from the Northern part of India, Kangra. He started the cultivation in the region Gilan, south of the Caspian Sea. The climate there was well suited for tea cultivation, and the tea industry quickly expanded in Gilan and Mazandaran region. Kashef’s mausoleum in Lahijan is now part of the “Iran’s National Tea Museum”. (Reference: Wikipedia)