In Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa, people have always maintained the habit of drinking mint tea. In addition to green tea, water and sugar, this warm Arabic sweet tea formula can also be added with aromatic and medicinal plants such as mint, sage, and chamomile. After boiling, the color will be bright amber. In the eyes of many Westerners, this tea is too sweet and greasy, but in the eyes of the locals, it is like the “water of life”, which can drink 20 or 30 cups in a day. In the Sahara region, desert walkers and truck drivers can’t stand a day without sweet tea. The Tuaregs in Algeria realized the philosophy of “three beards for drinking tea” from the sweet mint tea, while the Bedouin in Jordan directly regarded it as the “Bedouin whiskey” that sustains life.
The trip to Mauritania and Algeria allowed reporters to see the sweet tea culture unique to the Saharan nomads (pictured). Mauritanians like to drink sweet tea because they “drink it if they have the conditions, but if they don’t have the conditions, they have to drink it.” Whether it is a desert walker or a truck driver, their carry-on luggage must contain teapots, glasses, tea and sugar. For this purpose, the Tuareg people have made the traditional “three-piece tea-drinking” leather bag, which is stylish in shape and colorful, and contains an exclusive pocket for storing tea and sugar. Light a bonfire in the desert with dead branches, set aside the charcoal that is about to burn out, and put an enamel teapot on the charcoal to make tea. This is a compulsory course for deserters several times a day. The truck driver who drove did not forget the sweet tea. On the bumpy road, the co-pilot set up a small gas stove to make tea. Although the teapot was shaking and it looked thrilling, but the moment the tea boiled, all the faces of the truck were exposed. Satisfied and happy smile.
It is very different from the Chinese people who use hot water to make tea. Saharan nomads need to make tea when the water is first opened, add sugar and mint leaves a few minutes later, and wait until the tea is completely boiled before it is considered as sweet tea. Sliman from Tuareg said that Arabs in northern Algeria and Libya drink tea with “hot brewing”, which is totally unappetizing. They pay attention to pour the boiled tea into all the cups and then return it to the pot and boil it until it boils.
The biggest feature of Mauritanians preparing sweet tea is the small teapot. Their teapots are extremely small and exquisite, with very limited capacity. The glass for drinking tea is not too big, similar to a large Chinese liquor cup. “Don’t worry, this is a magical teapot. Now you can share it with 6 people. The amount is small but everyone has a share. If 60 people want to drink, it’s okay. Even if there is only one mouthful, everyone can drink it!” Insights After my questioning, tea maker Xidi explained this way. Because “the pocket teapot is easy to carry, you can burn it again if you don’t have enough one time, the fun of drinking sweet tea is to share rather than quench your thirst!”
Compared with ordinary Arabic sweet tea, the second feature of Sahara sweet tea is frothing. When pouring the tea, the tea maker must hold the teapot high and repeatedly pour the tea between the pot and the cup until the rich foam appears. Tea Jingke, when pouring tea, there are two or three centimeters of white foam in each cup. When you drink a cup of tea, your mouth first touches the smooth foam, and then comes the sweet green tea mixed with mint, sage, chamomile and other aromas. Let the sweet tea foam, the intention is not to look good but to insulate. In the open-air desert environment, the foam can firstly prevent the heat from dissipating to ensure the temperature of the tea, and secondly, it can also “contain” the dust or flying insects floating into the cup to ensure that the lower tea is clean. Therefore, as the locals said, “Sweet tea without foam is substandard and does not respect the guests.”
The desert walker found a shade of trees and sat on the ground to make tea and drink tea. After the truck driver had finished making tea in the car, he parked the car on the side of the road and climbed to the shade under the car to spread a blanket and drink slowly. Even strangers passing by are often invited to have a few drinks together. Drinking hot green tea in hot weather is of course because it can quickly replenish the energy consumed by the body. But Mauritanians prefer to use tea to meet friends and socialize with tea. They have to burn this sweet tea at least three times and drink three cups. The slower they drink and the more they talk, it takes one or two hours to drink three or four cups of tea at a time. The Tuareg people believe in such a philosophy when they drink sweet tea: the first cup of tea is as bitter as death, the second cup is as strong as life, and the third cup is as sweet as love. Therefore, drinking three cups of sweet tea in the desert can not only replenish physical fitness, but also have a sweet taste, which symbolizes the ups and downs of life. It is one of the most Saharan travel experiences to integrate human relationships and social interactions into teas that are full of talk and laughter. After tasting the tea, the leader of the camel must not forget to wash the glass tea cup, put it in a small wooden box, and tie it to the back of the camel together with the teapot and set off again.
Green tea from China has shortened the distance between the reporter and Sahara sweet tea. All tea packages here are clearly marked with the words “Chinese green tea”. Indeed, since ancient times, the Saharans have used distant Chinese green tea to make sweet tea with a very desert flavor. Every time they make tea, they use almost 1/3 of the capacity of the tea pot, which is surprisingly large. Making sweet tea must rely on a very high proportion of green tea to be successful, so the elegant oriental tea ceremony evolved into a boiled, frothy, sweet and strong just-needed drink in the hands of the Saharans. Many people are addicted to drinking tea because of its high concentration of coffee.