Senegalese tea culture

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A five-year-old boy preparing tea near Dakar, Senegal.

Senegalese tea culture is an important part of daily social life. Senegal tea-drinking revolves around mint tea especially, similar to other countries in the West Africa region, such as Gambia and Mauritania. In and around Senegal, tea is prepared and presented in an elaborate process known by the Wolof word, attaya or ataaya.[1] People sometimes drink tea at breakfast but more particularly after meals, and it is the beverage that is offered to friends and visitors. Drinking tea promotes conversation and maintains friendship because it takes a long time to prepare properly.[2]

Senegalese-style mint tea is served in three separate stages, called "the three concoctions":

Chinese green tea leaves are put into the teapot with some water and mint leaves and boiled over a charcoal stove. Sugar is added to the teapot and the tea is poured into small glasses of a certain height and then poured back and forth from the glass to the teapot several times so that foam appears in the glass. The thicker the foam, the better the tea.[3]

One cookbook of African recipes recommends serving the tea immediately with a generous amount of sugar:

The Western African style of serving involves holding the tea pot high above the table and pouring the hot tea at least twelve inches through the air into small glasses. (Glasses made of glass, not porcelain cups.) If the sugar is added to the pot, the tea is sometimes poured from the glasses back into the pot (before anyone has sipped) and the process is repeated. This mixes the sugar into the tea. Western Africans generally drink their tea very sweet.[4]

The first glass of tea is quite bitter, the second is sweeter and the third is very sweet but does not have much taste because the same leaves are used to prepare all three glasses.

The words used in various ethnic languages to refer to the tea, the teapot and the mint are borrowed from Arabic, proving that Senegalese mint tea is of Moorish origin.[5]

More than 80% of the population from 15 to 60 years of age drink tea. Studies have shown that due to the high concentration of fluoride in green tea, the practice may aid in preventing dental diseases, specifically dental caries.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Green Tea with Mint". The Congo Cookbook (African Recipes). Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Countries of the Francophone: The Musée de la Femme "Henriette Bathily", Senegal: Preparing Tea". Canadian Heritage Information Network. Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Countries of the Francophone: The Musée de la Femme "Henriette Bathily", Senegal: Preparing Tea". Canadian Heritage Information Network. Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Green Tea with Mint". The Congo Cookbook (African Recipes). Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Countries of the Francophone: The Musée de la Femme "Henriette Bathily", Senegal: Preparing Tea". Canadian Heritage Information Network. Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
  6. ^ Yam AA, Kane AW, Cisse D, Gueye MM, Diop L, Agboton P, Faye M. "Traditional tea drinking in Senegal. A real source of fluoride intake for the population.". National Institutes of Health, United States. Retrieved October 9, 2011. 

External links[edit]

Videos showing attaya tea drinking customs: