Sunday, November 12, 2006

Green Tea In The Sahara these desert people, tea drinking is one of life's non-negotiables, taking precedence over virtually all else. It is such an ingrained ritual, it seems as though it's been part of their culture since prehistoric times.

In fact, tea was first imported into this part of Africa in the early 1800s. For nearly a hundred years, it remained a luxury item, consumed mostly by the wealthy. Only in the early twentieth century was it adopted by the culture at large. It was so popular, and addictive, that Muslim scholars wrote long opinions on whether drinking it was permitted by the Koran.

Historically and today, the everyman's brew in this region is green tea from China--though not because the nomads were aware of its myriad health benefits. The British deemed green tea to be undrinkable, so their merchants used crates of it as ballast for their ships. When they docked at the Moroccan port of al-Swaira, the tea was unloaded and sold off cheaply, then the holds of the vessels were filled with African goods.

from Men of Salt: Crossing the Sahara on the Caravan of White Gold
by Michael Benanav

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