Posted in Kafevend Blog
Tea and coffee are as much a part of everyday life in Egypt as they are here in the UK, though with a significantly different taste and method of preparation. As far as coffee is concerned, the preferred style throughout this part of the world is Turkish coffee, the method of preparation for which is described in this blog: http://www.kafevendingmachines.co.uk/blog/turkish-coffee. Tea, however, is accorded the status of national drink and is prepared in two distinct ways depending on which part of the country you are in. (References to Upper and Lower Egypt refer to the altitudes of the areas, as opposed to their geographical location, so Lower Egypt to the north is lower than Upper Egypt to the south.)
Koshary tea is the lighter of the two and belongs to Lower Egypt. Black tea, about half a spoon per cup, is steeped in boiling water for a few minutes, then sweetened with cane sugar and often flavoured by the addition of mint leaves.
In Upper Egypt saiidi tea is the norm. This is the kind of tea you can stand your teaspoon in! Two spoons of tea per cup are boiled in water over a flame for five minutes or more. The resulting brew is very dark, heavy and bitter too, so plenty of sugar is added to counteract that bitterness.
Given the importance of sugar to tea and coffee in Egypt, it's interesting to note that they are traditionally served without a sweetener at Egyptian funerals, which are less a celebration of life, as has become increasingly common here, but instead a deeply sombre occasion. Thus the unsweetened drink does not detract from the bitterness of the ordeal.