Making Bedouin Tea 'Marmaraya' -- A sweet and spicey Middle Eastern Tea

in #recipes4 years ago (edited)




Mention the Middle East to most people and they will conjure up camels, Pyramids, Pharoahs and desert.  These are all images we have from our school days and it gives us a feeling of a bygone era. However, you maybe surprised to know that tea drinking and making it, is a past time here in Egypt. I, for one, am a huge tea drinker and love to experiment with different blends and unusal mixes.  So imagine my delight when I had the opportunity to experience Bedouin tea from an old  women near the Pyramids, I jumped at the chance; sorry to say she wasn't Bedouin, but she looked ancient enough to know how to make good tea!  

Traditional BedouinTea is prepared differently from 'you or me' - no electric kettles in the dessert!

The Bedouins are a nomadic ethnic group that  has long occupied the vast deserts flanking the Nile. Their shay  is traditional strong, black tea, (loose tea leaves ) and is made via a metal kettle over an open fire. Traditionally,  various indigenous herbs are added to the pot to steep before serving.  Today, most simply add marmarayasage (shay =tea )



Spicy Bedouin Tea Recipe

2 teaspoons fresh Thyme - dried can be used

2 teaspoons fresh  Sage - dried can be used

2 cardamom pods

1 cinnamon stick (Ceylon is best)

4 teaspoons loose black tea - if you haven't got - strong BLACK tea bag will work

Organic honey or sugar - if required

4 cups of water



Heat water with all ingredients except honey

Simmer for 5 minutes

Steep or rest for 5 minutes

Strain tea and pour in cup

Add honey or sugar to taste


I loved the tea so much that I decided to make this at home and added a few other ingredients to give it a little spice.Highlighted in can try either way and decide which you like best. I don't think this would work with green tea as you need the combination of the bitterness of the strong black tea and the spices. 

VERDICT: Surprisingly nicer with the cinnamon stick and cardamon pods - it gave the tea a warm spicy flavour, nice on a winters day.  I would say that made the traditional way of boiling the water over the fire, would add a smokey effect to the tea and possible strengthen the spices.  Either way , its good tea :)


Enjoy with friends!  

*first 2 photos Getty images


That's interesting that you mention liking the bitterness of black tea. I'm always looking for a comparison when I talk about the bitterness of some wild greens. People who like beer with a lot of hops, like an India Pale Ale, will like bitter tastes. I'll have to include black tea in my bitterness scale! Thanks!

the cinnamon and cardamon lessened the bitterness making it more palatable- on its own with just the Marmaraya its bitter hence the 'spoonfuls of sugar' put in - Give this a try and adjust to taste - you may enjoy the more 'bitter' taste - this is really a recipe for black tea.

I'll give this a try! :D

very interesting,
thank you!

pleasure - I love tea, coming from England , so I am delighted that Egyptians drink as much as back home. Love trying out new blends and ways :)

The farmer in my are grew tea between coffee plant


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