Me and my grandma hold strong ties. I’m probably the one grandchild that inherited the most from her looks and character. Looking around my family, it’s easy to realize that the adventurous side of me definitely came from her and my grandpa. Something that apparently no one else received, at least not with such density. She’s always been an idol for me. Whether in her attitude, her love life and her soft spot for travel and adventure. Her strong personality and ability to hold on to her independence and life after my grandpa has always been admired by all of us. But what connects us the most is the way she follows up and values what I do. If she ever hears of cool places in the city, she’ll quickly take note to tell me about it later. She’ll even call me up if there’s something travel-related airing on TV and insist that I don’t miss out on it.
So yes. I’ve got my grandma to thank for the delightful cup of tea I had in Haj Ali Darvish tea house aka the smallest tea house of the city. She had heard about it on TV and told me to check out next time I’m in the bazaar. And so I did.
Haj Ali Darvish tea house
Through the hustle and bustle of the Grand Bazaar of Tehran, there’s the small Haj Ali Darvish tea house belonging to a man who’s kindness coupled with his communication skills leaves you for a long conversation after a cup of lip burning tea. Haj Kazem looks like a humble guy, but just chatting with him for a few minutes reveals how educated and worldly he is.
Haj Ali Darvish tea house is hardly 2 square meters, but with a history that dates back to almost a 100 years. It’s been run by a bunch of different people and was eventually sold to Haj Darvish and is currently run by his son, Haj Kazem.
It took us a while to find his tiny place close to Imam mosque and next to Abdollah Khan school. It was clear to see that he has plenty of loyal customers and what he does is out of pure love and with passion, considering he has a strong economic status.
He greeted us with a smile and quickly started filling our cups with his special tea, something he certainly claims for. He asked about our background and as soon as he realized of our Graphic design studies, he promptly affirmed his rather not so basic knowledge in the field. Before you know it, we were talking design, travel and even relationships and boys! For a guy who’s never been married, he was actually really keen on the idea and was not intimidated in telling us – two girls at the ages of his possible granddaughters – how lonely he feels and how he regrets not having a wife to wake up to every morning. I mean, I hardly open up to random strangers so easily, but this man made us feel like we’ve known each other for years.
Despite my curiosity, I did not want to ask too many questions. But I could tell he’s travelled the world and has one hell of experiences and stories to tell. I was absolutely blown away by his marketing skills. A guy at the age of my grandpa has an instagram account forHaj Ali Darvish tea house with over a thousand followers! He has custom made souvenirs, little gifts for the girls and beautiful packaging for everything he sells. From a designers point of view who’s all about presentation and customer service, I thought this guy really knows what he’s doing, even if it’s in the smallest tea house of the capital.
Once we were done with our tea, he followed with his special infusion at no extra cost. He has a set price of 2000 tomans for each cup that comes with extra fill ups and even an infusion. However he’s made a clear statement on his wall that anyone’s allowed to pay whatever they got. Whether that’s another marketing skill or just out of generosity, I thought it was brilliant.
So if you ever end up in the grand bazar of Tehran, which you probably will, and you were just about to drop from all the shopping, head over to Haj Ali Darvish tea house, have a cup of tea, chat with an old man and hear some word of wisdom. You might even be lucky to end up in a selfie on his instagram.