I guess this should come as no surprise. Most non-American cultures enjoy a good cup of tea more than many things in life. And now, thanks to Starbucks' sky-rocketing popularity, people in the States are starting to understand the yummy goodness of a warm belly.
I guess the Arab's love of hot tea is a little striking because IT'S FREAKING HOT OVER HERE! I realize that at the moment I'm in the dead of winter and it's really cold in Saudi Arabia--70 degrees F right night with a low of 68 over night, we might turn on the heater. But the hot months most certainly out pace the cold months and when it's hot, it's really. freaking. hot. It's not like Arabs stop drinking hot tea or coffee in the hot months, oh no! They keep on truckin'.
Now I know the locals will tell you that drinking hot tea when you're already hot will actually cool you down faster because it'll cause your body to sweat, thereby bringing down your body temperature when you catch one of those oh-so-common desert breezes. To that I say get a fan because it's already darn hot and you're sweating like a racehorse that just finished a lap around the sun. Get a fan. Turn on the fan. And sip an icy cold beverage. Ten bucks says you'll cool down a lot faster!
Temperature aside, I am totally down with the hot tea because of the flavor. I don't know what they do differently than I do, but Arabic tea is so much better than anything I've put in my mouth elsewhere (get your minds out of the gutter!). I've been told it's the tea leaves, combined with a special ingredient that apparently only has an Arabic name, so of course I can't find it in any store because no one understands what I'm saying!
And the coffee! Oh heavens the coffee! Silk Road scmilk road, give the Arabs some java and they'll forget they ever heard of China's favorite export. There are more Turkish coffee making implements in our teacher's lounge than there are teachers at any given moment.
It takes so much effort to make, but I can see why Arabs enjoy the drink. While you're waiting for the beans to roast and then the drink to perk, you've got plenty of time to lounge on cushions and enjoy each other's company.
It doesn't matter where you are, you will find an Arab drinking a hot drink of some sort during any season, at any hour.
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