As lovely as this pottery is - and I am pretty sure it's handmade - it's everyday ware in Uzbekistan. Notice the cotton bolls. Uzbekistan is known for its cotton, and this "white gold" made the republic of Uzbekistan, when it was part of the USSR, a vital piece of the economy. Today I'm guessing, it's still the biggest crop and export.
I got these dishes from my friends who visited the USA back in the early '90s. If I remember correctly, my friends Ulugbek and Timour gave a set to my mother. I may have even purchased a few myself. After she died, I got it. Over the years Kade and I, have made tea many times, using that pot and those tea cups. [I added a couple of videos below] What I learned, though, on visits to Uzbekistan, and during the year I lived there, having tea was a true cultural and social experience.. We'd have it after dinner. They'd have it the morning. And at the school where I worked, it was served on break, much like coffee here. You find it in all the restaurants. In neighborhoods, there are tea houses where men gather and socialize. I remember my student/friend Bakhodir took me inside one of these near his home.
I recall drinking tea in Uzbekistan on occasion. But my favorite by far was black. I added the sugar cubes and maybe even some milk. An interesting aspect of all of this was that they had a saying that they used when preparing the tea. Boiling water would be brought over from the stove, and it would be poured into the pot, which had ground tea leaves inside (not in a bag or anything). It set there and brewed for a few minutes, and then someone would take the ceramic pot and pour into a tea cup once, then it would go back into pot, then poured a second time and back into the pot, and then a third time into the cup for drinking. The saying was, "First time, mud. Second time, oil. Third time, tea."
The smaller plates you see could be for salads and appetizers. The larger ones would hold a giant mound of rice pilaf, the country's national dish.
first year in Asheville
Click here for other tea experiences I've had.
And click here to learn more about Uzbek Pilaf.