8 Best Arab Teas and Their Benefits
BY: Julia Jahanpour/Contributing Writer
Tea is a prominent part of Arab culture and society. For centuries, it has been served warm for guests, business associates, and at meetings and social events. A strong part of the cultural tradition, hot tea has brought family and friends together for hundreds of years. It is served before, after, and sometimes during meals. Tea is a precursor for gatherings, parties, and celebrations because it not only is considered a polite form of welcoming guests, but is also a healthy beverage.
Different Arab teas have unique properties. Some provide medicinal benefits, while others have sweet flavors and strong aromas that soothe and provide comfort. Unlike Western tea, which is often served very sweet and iced, tea in Arab countries is served hot with fresh herbs. The types of tea drunk throughout the Arab world vary just as widely as the people do.
Here are 8 Arab teas and their beneficial properties.
1. Sage (Maramia)
Native to the Mediterranean region, sage provides many medicinal benefits, along with an earthy, herbal taste. Known for helping with hot flashes, oral viruses, lymph nodes, and muscle tension, sage offers a wide range of remedies. The strong aroma of maramia can be smelled throughout an entire house, leaving everyone feeling better after just one whiff.
2. Chamomile (Babooneh)
A popular drink before bed, chamomile tea is decaffeinated, and known to cure insomnia and anxiety. Highly calming, the dried chamomile flowers steep to a warm golden-brown, and can help with stress and minor aches and pains.
3. Anise (Yansoon)
With natural sweetness (think licorice), anise tea is loved for its unique flavor and calming properties. What’s more, anise tea can also be used for upset stomachs, nausea, and hiccups. Natural digestive properties make this tea a great choice after eating large meals.
4. Thyme (Za’atar)
Great for the mind and stomach, za’atar tea helps improve memory and cleans out the stomach. Rich in antioxidants, this tea is also useful in preventing aging from within.
5. Cardamom (Hal)
Widely adored for its strong aroma, cardamom tea is very common in the Arab world. It is sometimes mixed with coffee and has historically been known to help with digestion and increase the flow of saliva. It is drunk before meals to ready the enzymes for nutrients. Although one of the most expensive spices in the world, cardamom is still fervently harvested by hand for its many Arab customers.
6. Moroccan Mint Tea (Atay)
Atay is one of the most traditional teas in North Africa and prepared with mint leaves and sugar. Originally introduced by English merchants, the tea has spread in popularity throughout Africa, France, and other neighboring countries. Known to be invigorating and lively, the fresh mint used to prepare Atay helps cleanse the palate after meals, and is great for lethargic days.
7. Mint (Na’na)
Also well-known for its medicinal properties, mint tea is used commonly for getting over colds, sore throats, sinus congestion, and gastric ulcers. With high antioxidants and vitamins, mint helps boost immunity and health. Seasonal allergies can also be treated by drinking cups of na’na tea due to rosmarinic acid, an anti-inflammatory agent found in mint. Minor aches and pains can be made better by the aspirin-like properties in mentha, even when consumed as a tea! Instead of adding the leaves directly to the tea, nana is made by boiling the fresh ground herb with the water.
8. Black Tea
Although not as beneficial to one’s health, straight black tea (think Lipton) is still incredibly popular among Arabs. Coffee actually takes second place to the caffeine levels of black tea, which can provide the drinker with longer-lasting energy throughout the day. Black tea can also help flush out the system of toxins, and with a little lemon, will aid in weight loss and appetite suppression.