It goes without saying that tea is one of the most celebrated and adored drinks among Arabs. Over the years, it has become an intrinsic part of our day-to-day life and managed to weave itself into our early mornings, relaxing afternoons, and late evenings. It does not matter what time, it’s a drink enjoyed regardless of the occasion. Whether drenched in milk or flavored with rich spices, there are so many ways to prepare the drink. With it being International Tea Day, it’s a great time to take a figurative journey across the Arab World and get acquainted with the rich varieties of this special drink.
Moroccan Mint Tea (Ataya Maghrebi Nana)
Popular not just in the Arab world but globally, Moroccan mint tea has become an essential to Moroccan identity that it’s hard to dissociate the two. The refreshing drink is made with green tea and fresh spearmint but what makes it truly Moroccan is how it is served. In Morocco, the tea is usually poured from a pot held high up from a distance so that the drink is aerated and made lighter which helps to create that desirable foamy top.
It has always been a symbol of hospitality and generosity and was treated as such as it is usually served on an artisanal silver tray with a silver set of glass cups. What’s great about this type of tea is that it is served in a small cup which means you will always go for a second round.
To make it at home, fill a metal teapot with green tea leaves and boil some water in a kettle. Pour the boiled water into the teapot, add in the sugar then re-heat the teapot for one to three minutes. The longer you boil your tea, the more caffeinated it will be. Add in some fresh mint and let everything boil for another one to two minutes until the liquid starts foaming and with that, you’ll a refreshing cup of Moroccan mint tea ready to be enjoyed. You can also check out this recipe for more detail.
In the UAE, if you ask anyone they’ll tell you chai Karak is their go-to drink. This drink transcends borders as it is not only enjoyed in places like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Ras El Khaimah but also in neighboring countries like Oman. Arriving in the 1960s, all the way from India, it has become an intrinsic part of the Gulf culture wherein today, you can easily find the drink sold in multiple shops dotted across the UAE and Oman. It has become so popular that now there is a shop in Egypt dedicated to re-creating the drink.
Beyond that, Karak can also be enjoyed at home: to re-create it you will simply brew some loose tea leaves with spices and milk and bring the entire mix to a boil. You can check out this recipe for more of a step-by-step guide to making this tea. Now with it being winter, this is the perfect drink for that needed dose of warm comfort.
Yemini Tea (Chai Adani)
Along the coastal city of Yemen’s Aden, a special kind of tea is made, one packed with spices that is known by the name of Chai Adani. With an infusion of spices, the drink is the kind that gives that immediate kick from the very first sip. To make the drink, simmer a combination of cardamom, cinnamon and cloves in hot water and sweetened condensed milk for a few minutes. Once the drink becomes fragrant, you can add the black tea leaves and simmer them in the mixture for about two to four minutes. You can also check out this recipe for more detail on how to re-create the drink.
Depending on preference, you can have it served with condensed or evaporated milk for that rich creamy flavor. To up the experience, you can pair the drink with some Yemeni crispy biscuit-like bread known as Thamool. It is not sweet so pairs really well with tea.
Egyptian Tea ( Koshari)
Probably the most unique type of tea in the Arab world, Egypt’s koshari tea is all about upping the flavor and strength of the drink. Known for its dark red color, it is usually made by seeping hot water in a copious amount of tea leaves and following that by adding a hefty amount of sugar. To up the flavor and make the drink more refreshing, pieces of fresh mint would be added. For a more detailed recipe, you can check out Fashion paradoxes blog.
With it being extremely sweet, it would be hard to pair it with a dessert so we’d recommend going for a more savory option and munching on some thick breadsticks which you can also dip into the tea to soak up its rich flavor. This is the ultimate drink to have in Egypt known to be served in practically every restaurant and cafe across the country.
Libyan Tea (Shahi al-Alla)
When it comes to Libyan households, drinking tea is the type of activity that’s given the royal treatment as they do not merely drink it from a cup, it has to be served on a tray as part of a tea set called Alla. It would usually be made up of three parts: the large sugar container, the tea container, and the incense to also add a unique aroma to the experience.
The tea itself is served quite strong, boiled on low heat, and is known for its smooth layer of white foam. Guests get to enjoy three rounds of the drink with the third round made with roasted almonds or peanuts along with mint leaves. To make this special drink, all you’ll need to do is fill a teapot with water and bring it to boil over low heat then add tea leaves. You’ll then need to pour the tea multiple times to create its signature foamy top. For a proper recipe, you can check out this video on how to make this tea.
There is a unique story behind the white foam as Shahi al Alla was a drink that used to be prepared in the desert. With the surrounding sandy environment, it was easy for dust or sand to get into the drink so the foam layer on top acted like a barrier to prevent the dust or sand from reaching the actual tea.
With so many ways to prepare the drink, we’d recommend picking out one of the drinks on this list, heading to the kitchen, warming up some water, and preparing a cup of cozy goodness.