We continue our trip exploring tea around the world this time in Middle East and African Countries! Are you ready to go?
While Turkey may be famous for its black coffee, tea is also an important part of Turkish social life. Tradition also requires daughters to know how to prepare the perfect cup of tea before they’re able to get married. Cay tea is prepared in a double teapot: tea is brewed in the top one while at the same time steamed from the boiling water in the bottom kettle. For the perfect Turkish tea, pour into small tulip-shaped glasses and never add milk. Sugar, if needed, is not added directly into the drink, but placed under the tongue or between the cheeks while drinking.
Another large importer of tea is Egypt and black tea is consumed several times throughout the day. Tea leaves are strongly brewed and boiled and the infusion is heavily sweetened. Dried mint leaves are sometimes added for additional flavoring.
Tea is the national beverage in Iran. Always sweetened, black tea is favored for warmth and comfort, while green tea is consumed for refreshment. Also known as Chai, it is served for breakfast, lunch, dinner, in between meals… all throughout the day! A pinch of rose petals is added to the tea leaves followed by hot water and the whole is left to simmer for several minutes. Transparent glasses are used so the guest can make sure the color of the drink is to their taste, as some prefer it light while other prefer a stronger drink.
North African Countries
In Morocco as well as other countries in the area, tea is part of the local people’s hospitality traditions. Any home, shop, hotel … that you will step in will serve you the country’s version of tea. Touareg tea is a highly sweetened green tea in which spearmint is added. Because of the high honor of preparing and serving tea, it is usually done by the man of the house. Guests at tea ceremonies are customarily served three glasses each one symbolizing life, then love and finally death. It is considered rude to refuse a drink or to not finish it!
Mauritania also has its own version of the Touareg tea service. Sweetening is done progressively with the three cups, making the first one bitter and progressively ending on a sweet note.
Africa is a fertile ground for tea production. Kenya for example, is the third largest producer of tea in the world. Being right on the equator, tea can be produced all year long! South Africa may not be a major exporter, but it is where the Rooibos plant can be found. While not exactly a tea, this infusion is prepared the same way as tea is, and milk and/or sugar can be added. As for Malawi, the red color of the soil is transferred onto the plants, giving the leaves a uniqueness that cannot be found in Kenyan tea.