Western Sahara: Three Cups of Tea

Tea in Sahara
Photo by Steve Monty on Flickr under a Creative Commons license

Blogger Recuerdos del Sahara invited us to share not one but three cups of tea because, as people say there:

El primer te es amargo cómo la vida. El segundo es dulce cómo el amor. El tercero es suave cómo la muerte.

The first cup of tea is sour as life. The second cup is sweet as love. The third is soft as death.

Photo by Cristoph Andre on Flickr under a Creative Commons license

Eva Moreno, who lives in El Aaiun, describes the whole experience of trying to make some Sahrawi tea:

“La primera vez que intenté prepararlo me salio fatal, bueno, la primera y la segunda y la tercera… No es que sea muy difícil pero hay tener maña para calcular bien la cantidad de té y azúcar y para hacer la espuma: se vierte el té de un vaso a otro desde cierta altura, y es fácil que se salga fuera y ponga perdida la bandeja. Se prepara en brasas (“jmar”) de carbón vegetal (“fajar”). A muchos les gusta añadirle hierbabuena, cominos y otras plantas cuyos nombres no recuerdo ahora. La bandeja con patas se llama “tabla”, la tetera “berred” y los vasos “kisan”. El té sienta muy bien cuando hace calor; en el mes de Ramadan, al ayunar se tiene a veces dolor de cabeza, sobre todo si la noche anterior no se tomó el té y se tiene esa costumbre, a eso se le llama “tener la cabeza de té”.

“The first time that I tried to prepare a cup of tea was terrible, well, the first time, and the second and the third… It is not that difficult but you must calculate precisely the quantity of tea and sugar and make the foam: You have to pour out the tea from a certain elevation, and then it easily spills out and makes a mess of your platter. You should prepare it on a grill (“jmar”) made of charcoal (“fajar”). Many people enjoy it with some mint, cumin and other herbs that I cannot remember now. The platter with posts is called “tabla,” the teapot is “berred” and the cups “kisan”. The tea is pleasant when it is hot. During the month of Ramadan [the Muslim month of fasting], when you are fasting sometimes you have a headache, especially if you forgot to drink your tea the previous night and you are used to it. You are then said to “have a tea head”.”

As with many cultures, people in Western Sahara have developed rites and a social scene around tea and we can imagine the desert, a cloudless sky at night, a full moon and a cup of tea (or two, or three)! Enjoy!


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