Start to Finish: 10 minutes
Difficulty Level: Beginner
Offering tea is an integral part of Arab hospitality, and people in the Arab world drink tea throughout the day. On the Arabian peninsula, black tea is the favored brew, rather than the green tea served in Asia.
- 6 cups water
- 4 teaspoons black tea or tea bags
- 1 bunch fresh mint leaves
- 4 cardamom pods
- 6 sage (maramiah) 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.
Boost 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 over.
- 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.
Some brands of condensed milk come flavored with cinnamon.
Presentation is key when taking Arab-style tea. Although there is less ritual than, say, the Japanese tea service, the pot should be arranged on an ornate tray surrounded by small, dainty glasses or cups. Large cups or mugs are too unwieldy.
Allow guests to serve themselves from a sugar bowl to accommodate differences in taste.