Sunday, March 06, 2011

Recipe: Badawi Shai (Bedouin Tea from Egypt)

The Bedouin (desert gypsies -  would be the closest translation) who live in the deserts of Egypt and around have a special blend of herbs that they use to make tea and it does not include tea leaves. The tea is a digestive and very soothing. It has multiple healing properties from its many herbs.
Marmareyya is the main ingredient and is from the mint family. It is an astringent, good for the throat and also extremely good for upset stomachs. Even in Cairo, Egyptians drink plain marmareyya tea for stomach upsets.

The Badawi Shai blend includes rose petals, cinnamon, chamomille flowers among other ingredients. While the blend bought from the bedouin is clean and pure, it is very difficult to source (not least because the bedouin in the Sinai peninsula are wary of outsiders)

The blend is available in some herbalist/ spice shops in Cairo and Dahab / Sharm el Sheikh. But most of the time it will need ot be cleaned. The sticks/ stems of the Marmareyya turn bitter when boiled but add bulk to packaging. So do remove these sticks before you add to boiling water.

The recipe is fairly simple.

Boil a cup of water. Add a teaspoon of the bedouin tea blend to the boiling water, cover the pot and turn off the heat.

Let the tea steep for 2- 5 minutes. Strain and serve hot.

If you ask for any tea - shai in Egypt, it will be served with "a lot" of sugar. However I like this tea plain or with a spot of honey. Hence the tea looks a lot darker in this picture (from the honey)

Its especially wonderful in the winters and monsoons (Egypt doesn't really have a monsoon season, I mean the monsoons in India).



sangeeta said...

Oh this looks quite exotic...would love to have it as i am a tea lover , all the plain brews actually.
Now a days it is my large mug of kahva giving me company:)

Anonymous said...

I have wondered before of the translation for I wonder no more. Trying to imagine the taste of the tea..might have to start searching for the ingredients here. Thanks for sharing this :)

Kim said...

Sangeetha, I love tea too. All kinds of black, green and white teas.

There is a green semcha tea demo at Bookwise in Shahpurjat this Tuesday morning in case you are interested.

Nancy - the flavoring for this particular tea comes from marmareyya and I haven't found that particular herb outside the Egypt/Morocco region. Although it is from the mint family, it is not the same as using fresh or dried mint - it has a unique flavor of its own.

The other ingredients are easily available in India and Indian specialty stores in US/Canada and parts of Europe

harleygypsy2003 said...

yum-yum. i tried this tea a while back, i love everything i have tried n mediterranian category, thanks for article

mashhood said...

Looks like our own "kawaa"...

Kim said...

Although the color of the finished product is similar, Badawi shai is NOTHING like Kashmiri kahwa

John Yohan John said...

We are a brand agency, currently studying tea drinking habits in the MENA region. Would u mind sharing some insights on this topic?

Anonymous said...

I tried this on a recent trip to Egypt in a bedwyn tent was amazing and brought some home!!!s


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