Since ancient times, we, the Bedouin of Wadi Rum, lived a simple and harsh life in the desert. We learned to come by with little to nothing. And we learn to cope with the, at times, sweltering summer heat. Although most of us now live a more settled life in villages that gives us more comfort and luxury, there is one thing we could not and cannot live without; Bedouin tea. We are happy to drink it all day; at mealtimes, when having guests, making deals, and every other situation or moment that can be an excuse to enjoy another cup of tea.
Since Bedouin tea is essential to us, it is about that we devote a blog to it. We explain what equipment and ingredients are needed to make Bedouin tea. And, of course, we also tell how to make a good cup of Bedouin tea. Lastly, we share some of the benefits of drinking Bedouin tea.
Necessary equipment for preparing tea
Well, as said before, Bedouin life is about simplicity. So, it is no rocket science that we need a teapot and glasses. We have different size kettles to fit each group size. And we serve the tea in small cups that have the size of a shot glass. These days, we mostly use the ones with a handle, but we also have the ones without handles.
Of course, there is no option to make tea in the desert without having wood and a lighter. We collect wood (only dead parts!) wherever we are, and a lighter is always in our pocket. When we are in the village or camp, we prepare the tea on gas to save the precious desert firewood.
Bedouin tea ingredients
The main ingredients for Bedouin tea are water, black tea, and sugar. We only use loose black tea leaves of good quality as it has a better taste than the teabags. Although we mostly make ‘plain’ Bedouin tea, we sometimes add herbs like sage, mint or thyme, and spices like cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks for a different, more spicy and sophisticated taste.
Preparing Bedouin tea in the desert
First of all, we collect some firewood from the desert. We put it together and start a small fire. Then we fill the teapot with water, and we add sugar to the cold water. The amount of sugar depends on how sweet we want the tea to be. We prefer our tea, which we also call Bedouin whiskey, strong and very sweet. Therefore we add roughly one full tea glass of sugar for every 1-1,5 liter of water. It is essential to add sugar to the cold water instead of when the tea is ready to drink. Because when you let the sugar slowly resolve in the warming water, it tastes different and, in our opinion, better.
Once the fire is ready, we put the teapot on it. As soon as the sugar water is boiling, we add the loos black tea. Two tablespoons are about enough for 1,5 liter. We don’t use a tea infuser. But put it on top of the boiling water. We let it simmer for 5-10 minutes. No stirring!
Bedouin tea made over the fire tastes slightly different from the one made on gas. It gets a subtle smoky flavor from the fire’s smoke. O, and if we want to add herbs and or spices, we add those together with the loose tea leaves.
The benefits of drinking Bedouin tea
There are a lot of benefits linked to drinking Bedouin tea. It would be to much, to mention all of them. So, hereafter you find five of them.
1 - Staying hydrated
In a dry, hot desert climate like ours, dehydration is a severe risk. Therefore it is essential to drink enough liquids. Water and also tea are perfect choices as they add fluids to the body.
2 - Lowering your body temperature
In a dry and hot climate, drinking warm drinks like our Bedouin tea reduces your body temperature. It works as follows. When you drink a hot glass of tea, you start to sweat more as your body temperature initially raises a bit. When all the sweat evaporates, the temperature reduction will be more than the initial raise. So, you lowered your body temperature. If you want to learn more about this phenomenon, you, for example, can read the publication from the University of Ottawa’s Thermal Ergonomics Laboratory on PubMed.
3 - Improving your metabolism
Drinking hot drinks during a meal helps absorbing nutrients, prevents water retention, and burns more calories. For those of you who know more about Ayurveda, the ancient Indian medicine, this must sound familiar as it is and one of the old natural medicines.
4 - Helping to fight infections
Hot tea is beneficial when having a sore throat or cold. The heat reduces congestion and the level of the mucous present in our airways. Thus it helps to eliminate the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and fungus.
5 - Herbs boost your health even more
Regularly adding sage (Meramiye in Arabic) to your tea, amongst others, helps to cure sore throats, overcome cold and coughing, improve the digestive system, and increase the function of the liver. As the sage leaves have a bitter taste, we recommend adding extra sugar to the tea to compensate for the bitterness.
Thyme (zaʿtar in Arabic) is rich in antioxidants. Add it to your tea for cleaning your stomach, prevent aging, and improving your memory.
In our desert, grow quite some medicinal plants. From these, we make special teas when we have certain illnesses. Do you want to know more about our natural medicine? Read our blog ‘7 secrets of Bedouin medicine‘.
‘Tashrab shay?’ means, do you want to drink tea in Arabic. When on holiday in Jordan, you for sure get multiple invitations for tea. Well, now you know what Bedouin tea is, how we prepare it, and what the benefits of drinking it are. So, do you want to come and drink tea with us? We can imagine you’d like to try this tea yourself! When you join us for a tour and overnight stay in Wadi Rum, we will serve you with plenty of tea. See you in Wadi Rum!