Tea Time: Middle East
Tea and coffee are
pretty big in the Middle East and are enjoyed by everyone, everywhere
and anytime! Here we will focus on tea. Coffee in the Middle East pretty
much comes in two varieties: Turkish coffee and Arabic coffee (aka
Saudi coffee) but we will cover that in a separate post soon. Every
region (or nation) have their own flavor or ritual of making tea from
refreshing mint green tea in Morocco to slightly dark tea in Iran. Arabs
wake up with Turkish or Arabic coffee and then followed with tea when
eating breakfast. Tea consumption continues through out the day and
late night. When visiting someone's home, it's customary to offer guests
tea (and coffee or both) with some type of Middle Eastern sweet or
dessert. In most of the Middle East, tea is consumed throughout the day
as a social activity, during work and in business functions and
afternoon breaks, with tea bars and kiosks filling a similar social
function to alcohol drinking establishments in Europe and North America.
In Amman, Jordan tea and coffee kiosks or stops are even available
drink tea in a variety of methods and flavors. Fresh mint is the most
popular herb and it's used extensively in North Africa and the Levant.
Other flavors include cardamom, sage (meramiah), cinnamon, anise, lemon
or just sadah (plain black tea). North African nations such as Morocco
and Algeria mostly drink green tea while majority of the Middle East
drink black tea. Teas from the Gulf nations are made similar to Indian
tea chai masala. The tea is spiced with cardamom and cloves is served
milky and sweet.
Here is a sampling of tea recipes around the Middle East and North Africa
Palestinian Sage (Meramieh) Tea
Palestinians drink sage tea and mint tea. Here is a basic recipe for a sage tea: Bring
6 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove the pan from the
heat, add the tea and sage leaves, and cover the pan. Wrap a kitchen
towel around the pan and set it aside for 10 minutes to allow the tea to
steep. Then strain the liquid into a teapot and serve hot, with a bowl
of sugar on the side.
What is Maramia (Sage)?
(Sage) is a healthy, naturally grown herb originating from the
Mediterranean that is used for cooking, medicine, and smudging. The
epithet officinales, of its scientific name Salvia officinales, refers
to its healing properties and medicinal uses, as the officina was
the storeroom in monasteries during the Medieval Era where medicines and
herbs were stored. Maramia has been used since before ancient times for
a variety of things from snakebites to increasing fertility and warding
For best results, always use lose leaf tea.
- Pour the water into the tea kettle and add the sugar. (This is a key step! Letting the sugar boil with the water and tea leaves makes all the difference)
- Add the loose tea leaves on top of the water. The leaves will remain floating on top. Do not stir.
- Place the kettle over fire and allow the tea to boil and brew to a beautiful dark amber color.
- If brewing over a camp fire, lift the cover off the tea kettle for a few minutes as it boils to obtain a delicious Smokey flavor. A must try!
- For additional flavors, add a spring of fresh mint or thyme into your glass and pour the tea over it. Do not boil the herbs with tea as some may become bitter with boiling.
- Settle into a comfy spot and enjoy with good company!
- You can never have enough tea. Refill any empty glass promptly.
tea is similar to Indian tea (Chai Masala). This recipe is for milk
tea, a very sweet black tea spiced with cardamom and cloves added to
condensed milk. Let the milk boil lightly on the stove for a few minutes
to develop the flavor.
16 oz. water (2 cups)
4 oz. condensed milk
6 tsp. sugar (NOTE: Yemeni tea is very sweet, you may lessen the sugar to taste)
3-4 cardamom pods
2 whole cloves
water, milk, sugar, cardamom, and cloves to saucepan and bring to a
boil on medium heat. Boil on medium heat for about 5 minutes, being
careful not to burn milk. Add tea and continue boiling for another 5
minutes, allowing the tea to flavor the milk. Serve with thamool or
cookies. Serves 2
Moroccan Mint Green Tea
consumes green tea with mint rather than black tea. It has become part
of the culture and is used widely at almost every meal. The Moroccan
people even make tea performance a special culture in the flower
country. Moroccan tea is commonly served with rich tea cookies, fresh
green mint leaves, local "finger shape" brown sugar, and colorful tea
glasses and pots. Drinking Moroccan tea is not only a luxury of tongue,
but also the eyes.
Serves 2, makes 3 cups
1 tea bag (black tea) or 1 tablespoon loose black tea
3 whole mint sprigs
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
3 cups steaming hot water
the sugar to a tea pot or serving pitcher; add the mint sprigs and tea,
and pour hot water over mixture. Stir a few times to dissolve the sugar
and close the tea pot lid (or cover up pitcher). Let steep for 5
minutes. Serve hot
Boil a pan of water, whilst it’s coming to the boil add five or six big handfuls of sugar.
6-8 ‘Mumtaz’ tea bags, you can tear them open for better flavor if you
like. Then add two small cans of evaporated milk and bring it back to
the boil. For something extra flavorsome, add two Zaatar (Thyme) tea
bags, some finely grated ginger and a pinch of cardamom at the same time
as the milk.
- Take it off the heat and dunk the tea bags repeatedly and let it rest for a few minutes.
- Finally bring back to the boil and serve in small shot glasses. If there’s none to hand an adapted milk can works wonderfully.
most popular brands of tea used in Iraq are Assam black tea, Ceylon
Black tea, and other brands. They are dark and strong when brewed.
Sometimes we add a stick of cinnamon to the teapot or a few pods of
whole cardamom to falvor the tea.
is other variety of teas that we serve in Iraq, and they are dried lime
tea, and chamomile tea. Hibiscus tea is more popular in the South.
These teas are used for medicinal purposes.
usually consume tea throughout the day, and you can find tea stalls and
vendors everywhere. We drink tea with milk in the morning for
breakfast. Other times of the day, we drink it black.
You need a teapot, and a kettle with boiling water
2 teaspoons loose black tea or (Lipton loose tea)
2 cups boiling water
Granulated sugar, or sugar cubes
tea in the teapot and pour the hot water. Place the cover on top of the
teapot. Cover the teapot with a towel to keep the teapot warm and steep
for 10 minutes. We traditionally put the teapot on top of the kettle to
serve it, we put 1 teaspoon or more of sugar in the Istrian, or tea
cup. Pour tea to half full, and add boiling water to top of the cup.
Stir the tea cup and drink. Be careful, the Istrian can be very hot. We
do not strain the tea as we pour it. Tea leaves settle to the bottom of
Sometimes we serve sugar cubes on the side.
Note: we add boiling water to the tea when we pour tea in a cup to dilute it. Tea can be very strong, and gets bitter as it sits longer on top of the kettle.
Syrian Anise Tea
Anise Tea sprinkled with walnuts
2 teaspoons anise seeds
50 g of sugar
1 liter of soft water or still water
7 tsp black tea (Assam)
3 tablespoons walnuts
anise seeds with sugar and ½ liters of water boil. Can be drawn on a
low heat in a covered 10 min. Fill the black tea in a tea bag and hang
in a teapot. Boil the remaining water, let cool 1 minute, then pour over
the tea leaves. The tea can be drawn 4-5 min. Chop the walnuts. Remove
the tea bags from the pot and pour spiced tea through a strainer.
Distribute the tea glasses and serve sprinkled with chopped nuts.
majority of Saudis enjoy their tea. Most like it after they have eaten
their evening meal. While some may have green tea, the majority will
enjoy dark tea brewed with tea leaves and not tea bags. Saudi tea can
be fixed a variety of different ways but I will describe the way I
prepare it and helped win the heart of my Saudi mother-in-law.
I would boil 2.5 cups of water in a kettle but itself without any tea
added. In a separate tea kettle I would put 2 small pinches (usually 2
tablespoon each) of tea into the bottom of the tea kettle. I would also
add 1.5 tablespoons of sugar. One the water had come to a rolling boil
I’d transfer the boiling water into the tea kettle with the tea
leaves. I’d put this tea kettle back on the burner and again bring the
water (now with tea leaves) to another rolling boil. As the water boils
the tea leaves will rise to the top. I’d usually let it boil this way
for one to two minutes. Then I get a spoon to collect and the tea
leaves from the boiling water. This ensures that the tea will not get
any stronger than what you have just freshly brewed. After collecting
the tea leaves from the water, I’d then remove the tea kettle from the
stove and serve immediately in the skinny glass tea glasses typically
used here in the Kingdom to serve tea.
tea comes in two varieties: Koshary and Saiidi. Koshary tea, popular in
Lower (Northern) Egypt, is prepared using the traditional method of
steeping black tea in boiled water and letting it set for a few minutes.
It is almost always sweetened with cane sugar and is often flavored
with fresh mint leaves. Adding milk is also common. Koshary tea is
usually light, with less than a half teaspoonful per cup considered to
be near the high end.
Egyptian Saiidi Tea
tea is common in Upper (Southern) Egypt. It is prepared by simmering
black tea with water for as long 20 minutes over a medium flame (or boil
tea for 5 minutes) Saiidi tea is extremely heavy, with 2 teaspoonfuls
per cup being the norm. It is sweetened with copious amounts of cane
sugar (a necessity since the formula and method yield a very bitter
tea). Saiidi tea is often black even in liquid form.
1 tablespoon loose-leaf gunpowder green tea
3 cups plus 3 tablespoons cool water
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
1 large handful of fresh mint, rinsed and picked over
4 tablespoons pine nuts, dry roasted (optional)
a stove-top teapot, add the tea leaves and cover with the 3 tablespoons
of water. Bring to a quick boil and immediately pour off the water,
being carefully that no tea leaves escape. (This gets rid of the some of
the bitterness, and allows the tea to seep longer with mint.)
the sugar to the wet grounds and cover with the remaining 3 cups of
water. Over medium heat, with the lid open or off, bring to a boil.
half of the liquid into a bowl or Pyrex measuring cup; reserve. Stuff
the mint into the teapot, pressing it against the bottom of the pot with
a spoon to gently and slightly crush the leaves. Return the reserved
liquid to the teapot.
over low heat for a few minutes to let the mint infuse. Pour a glassful
into a clear drinking glass and then back into the pot, from as high as
possible without spilling to aerate the tea and blend the flavors.
Repeat this two or three more times, as the color of tea changes from
clear to a cloudy caramel.
tasting for sweetness and flavor. Add more sugar if desired, or let it
simmer another few minutes to make it stronger. Continue to pour
glassfuls in and out of the pot until satisfied with both the sweetness
and strength of the tea.
1 1/2 cups water2 whole cardamom pods, broken
1 pinch saffron powder
2 tea bags
1 teaspoon white sugar (optional)
Market Pantry Granulated Sugar - 4lbs
Add all ingredients to list
the water, saffron, and cardamom in a saucepan over medium heat. Cover,
and bring to a boil. Add tea bags, and let the tea steep for a minute,
or longer if you like stronger tea. Strain into a cup, and sweeten with
sugar if desired.
Number of Servings: 1
And of course one should remember that the tea glass is to be filled to the brim showing guests how welcome they are!
Sudanese Cinnamon Tea
SERVES 4 , 4 cups
4 cups boiling water
4 tea English tea bags or 4 teaspoon of loose English tea
4 cinnamon sticks (approx. 1/2-inch)
4 lumps of sugar, plus extra
Place 4 cups of boiling water in a tea pot with the tea & allow to brew for a few minutes then stir.
Place 1 cinnamon stick & 1 sugar lump in a tea cup & pour the tea slowly over them.
with an additional bowl of sugar lumps for guests to add if they like.
(You may also add a cinnamon stick to the tea pot whilst the tea is
brewing for a stronger cinnamon flavor).
Cardamom and Cinnamon Tea
2 Tablespoons of black tea leaves into a tea pot that you have just
heated by rinsing it with boiling water. Add 6 cardamom pods and a
2-inch piece of stick cinnamon. Now pour in 5 cups of water that you
have just brought to a rolling boil (put in 6 cups of you like your tea
on the weaker side). Cover the tea pot and let the tea steep for 4
minutes. Stir the tea.
You may serve this tea with milk and sugar, honey and lemon, or just plain.
Proper Way to Making Arabic Tea!
tea is an integral part of Arab hospitality, and people in the Arab
world drink tea throughout the day. The majority of Arabs drink black
tea and tea whether. North African nations mostly drink green tea.
6 cups water
4 teaspoons black tea or tea bags
1 bunch fresh mint leaves
4 cardamom pods
6 sage (meramiah) leaves (optional)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
Bring the water to the boil in a pot and add the tea leaves or bags.
Simmer for two to three minutes until the color diffuses, then remove the pot from the stove.
Rinse the mint leaves under running water, shake them dry, then tear them apart by hand.
Crush the cardamom pods gently in a pestle and mortar.
Pour the tea into a serving pot, add the mint and cardamom pods, cover and allow to steep for five minutes.
Serve the tea by pouring it through a strainer into small, delicate heatproof glasses and add sugar to taste.
- Arab tea served in the Middle East tends to be taken sweet, with an almost syrupy consistency.
the infusion with a more assertive spice mix, usually at the expense of
the mint leaves, as the fragrant subtlety is lost once the spices take
- Meramieh tea substitutes fresh sage leaves, native to the Mediterranean, for mint to give a soothing tea. This tea is traditional in Lebanon.
- Cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg are also appropriate options, releasing aromatic oils into the tea as it steeps.
The influence of Indian chai on the Arabian peninsula makes itself known with Karak tea, served with condensed milk.
- Boil up the spices first, typically cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon, then add the black tea and allow to brew.
- Stir in a dash of condensed milk, enough to give the tea some creaminess, but not too much to dilute the dark tan color.