Tea from Syria, Friends from Canada
I love tea. I have been thoroughly complacent and happy in my own world with what I was having—regular black tea with milk or the green tea that comes in teabags—until I saw this exotic-looking tea from Turkey. I couldn’t think of anything else since. I knew I had to fly off to a bazaar in Istanbul on the next available flight.
Instead, I find myself in a marketplace in Syria; the cool breeze is infused with the aroma of shawarma cooking nearby …
People from all walks of life roam about the narrow streets that are lined with small, colorful shops that sell anything from carpets and leather jackets to plastic toys and kitchen utensils.
And there, right next to the main entrance of Syria’s bazaar, is a guy wearing a fez—a traditional red hat with black tassels. He stands next to a wooden cart piled up with assorted things in plastic bags. But my eyes—as if trained for a thousand centuries—immediately spot the one thing I traveled all the way here for: the exotic tea …
And although I am certain that it is the kind of tea I had been looking for, I still inquire:
“What’s that?” I ask, pointing at an unbranded packet filled with dried flowers, leaves and twigs.
“Something, something, something, chai,” he replies in Farsi.
“Something, something, haazma, maada, something, something,” he continues, patting his abdomen.
“How much?” I ask.
“Twenty dirhams,” he replies.
“I’ll take it!”
I return home happy with the tea and a huge smile on my face. Then I realize that I don’t know how to brew or serve it the right way. There’s a dilemma, you see, whether to keep the flowers and leaves in or to strain them out while serving. So I turn to Umm Travis—the person responsible for this entire excitement—who tells me that both ways are correct. I brew a rose petal-infused tea and leave a few petals in my cup.
The tea tastes light and fresh, with a slight hint of roses. I loved it!
There are leaves in there too, but since I didn’t take this picture immediately, they sank in the bottom of the glass. Next time, I’ll try the chamomile and mint tea, and take better pictures too.
Oh, and that little fellow is Al Nahda. He came last night in a cute white mug, all the way from Canada. He didn’t come alone, of course. He is a gift from Mezba—one of the bloggers that I admire and respect—and his lovely wife. He has recently started this blog primarily for children, where he uses lego to visually convey the translation of the Holy Qur’an. So they’re in town for a couple of days, and Masood and I met them for dinner last night. They are such warm and nice people, mashaAllah, and it is truly sad that we had so little time to spend with them.
Now I’m off to enjoy my tea.
And I didn’t really go to Syria. I went to the Global Village.