Cover photo: Teapot in the desert – Nancy Ragab
CAIRO – 13 June 2017: Tea in the Egyptian desert is more than just a drink; it is an entire social and technical process that breaks the ice and requires "tea skills."
A group of people gather at night around a fire of wood or charcoal. Under the stars, they wait for the water to boil as they build rapport. Gazing at the fire while it heats the traditional enameled teapot, and warming your hands if it is cold, is a simple yet enjoyable experience.
Tea is served in numerous tiny cups, allowing for different tastes and concentrations. If the cup is big enough, the tea is poured at quite a distance from the cup, while moving the teapot up and down. You can imagine the sound.
Green tea is added to the pot and boiled for a little while before getting rid of the water and replacing it with fresh; it is believed that this removes the bitter aftertaste of the green tea. Black tea is boiled just boiled once.
A bit of foam on the tea after pouring it into the cup is a sign of well-made tea.
Different herbs are added one at a time; they have relaxing effects and an out-of-this-world taste, smell and feeling. Among the best known herbs are mint, basil and lemon grass.
Whether you’re a tea drinker or not, an experience with desert tea while in Egypt is something not to be missed.