May 30, 2012 at 10:01 #7906
I don’t mean, do they have one, I mean does anyone know about the tea culture they have there? It’s a question Tony of Chicago Tea Garden asked, and I thought it was interesting. I don’t have much knowledge to add myself though. Anyone ever been to Egypt, or knows a little about the tea customs?
June 1, 2012 at 07:35 #7908
*As I understand it it is like other countries in the region. I had a few cups in this style a couple of weeks ago:
A lot of gunpowder, a lot of mint and a lot of sugar. Boiled together for a while. It is very sweet for someone no longer used to sugar in his tea.
June 1, 2012 at 15:46 #7909
Kenyan tea is quite popular there, as there is no import duty on African teas.
June 3, 2012 at 09:09 #7920
July 3, 2012 at 14:59 #8027
Much like its neighbors, the Egyptians drink black teas overwhelmingly more often than any other kind of tea. This is true of countless other countries including America with our enormous iced tea market. While some countries might have relatively the same tea culture throughout their nation, the tea culture of Egypt is a bit divided geographically.
There are generally two types of tea made in Egypt. Both are made from black teas, the difference between them is in how they are prepared.
In Upper Egypt (geographically the south of Egypt), the locals enjoy what they call Saiidi. This tea is made by boiling water for long periods of time (as opposed to letting the water reach boiling temperature and then removing it from the heat source like many cultures do including american). They then proceed to steep a serving of tea with as much as 2-3 teaspoons of tea. Keeping in mind that most brewing instructions for american and british tea calls for about one teaspoon, this is quite a lot of tea. This no doubt creates a very dark (near black in fact), and bitter tea. To compensate they sweeten it with copious amounts of cane sugar.
In a nut shell, Saiidi tea is very dark and very sweet.
In Lower Egypt (geographically the north), the tea culture is quite different. The locals there drink what is known as Koshary tea. Koshary and Saiidi are in many ways perfect opposites of each other. Koshary tea is steeped with often less than 1/2 teaspoon of loose tea. In fact 1/2 teaspoon is considered a lot. The tea is then sweetened and is also flavored with fresh mint leaves.
Why does northern Egypt put mint in their tea and the south typically does not?
Northern Africa, particularly along the Mediterranean coast, is home to one of the oldest trading routes in history. The ancient ancient Greeks, the Carthaginians, the Romans all used it in ancient times. It was the path which bore the spread of Islam in the middle ages, they crossed from Arabia to modern Morocco and from there mounted their successful invasion of Spain, which wasn’t broken entirely until 1492, centuries later.
In more modern times, this trade route would be used by the Ottoman Empire and the Spanish who had procession of western northern Africa in the 18th century. It would be about this time that tea would be introduced to the region. Tea’s popularity would be solidified with the British occupation of Egypt starting in the late 19th century.
Anyway, what I am trying to point out is that Northern Africa has always been a place where trade occurred, and where there is trade, there is an exchanging of ideas and CULTURE. In our case that would mean the use of mint in tea.
Because southern Egypt is not a part of this trade highway, they were not as directly affected by the idea of mint tea as the north was. In fact, Mint Tea is commonplace along the entirety of North Africa, from Morocco to Arabia.
If you’re interested in learning more you can read my post on the subject at: Epi Tea Blog
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