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May 1, 2017

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Turkmenistan president writes on tea-drinking

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan -- The leader of reclusive Turkmenistan has penned a book on the spiritual and health benefits of tea, adding to the long list of publications attributed to the eccentric president.

State media in the ex-Soviet state reported Thursday that President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov's latest publication, called "Tea: Medicine and Inspiration," was a "gift" to the Turkmen people that celebrated tea's impact on their philosophy and world view.

"Every Turkmen knows there is nothing tastier than tea brewed in water from a mountain stream and boiled on an open fire in a traditional teapot," one passage reads.

Berdymukhamedov, a former dentist who came to power in 2006, has authored several books including works of poetry, a seven-volume encyclopedia on local medicinal plants, a biography of his father and a book about horses bred in Turkmenistan.

His latest book, unveiled Thursday in front of ministers, cultural figures and students in the capital Ashgabat, was "laced together by the unbreakable bond of eras and generations, the historic and modern Turkmen way of being in which tea-drinking traditions have special place," state media reported.

Berdymukhamedov, 58, took charge of the authoritarian Central Asian country after the death of his idiosyncratic predecessor Saparmurat Niyazov in 2006.

Niyazov — known as the "Father of the Turkmen" — developed a pervasive cult of personality that saw him rename months after his family members, erect statues of himself and make a book he wrote a mandatory part of the school curriculum.

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