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.


  1. Ha! And i thought you went to Syria! 😀 Very nice!
    Can’t really comment on tea cuz I’m a very coffee person.But then again I don’t mind having flower petals in my coffee 🙂 And the teddy,Al Nahda, is very cute! You’re lucky that Waseem is far away! Hahaha!

    I’m surprised that Mezba didn’t present you the gift in lego style 🙂 that’s his trademark,er? 🙂

    1. Does Waseem have a place for another friend? And more importantly, will his mom allow him to bring in another friend? lol But yes, I’m lucky that he’s far away because I’m not giving Al Nahda away 😀

      I’m assuming it’s his wife who picked up the cute gift. Mezba would rather keep any lego than give it away 😀

      Are we being bad by discussing him behind his back? 😉

      1. “Mezba would rather keep any lego than give it away ”

        Come to think of it.It’s true.He needs all pieces including a teddy for his new blog,which is incredibly awesome! Showed son the blog.Hope he likes it.

        Nah! I don’t think he’ll mind,cuz he’s so famous lol! 😀
        Waseem always has a place for another friend.It’s me whose putting a check on that! 🙂

  2. Salam
    I love Global Village. I was there last night with my Husband. We didn’t have any tea, but we ate the most amazing khemir bread with cream cheese and Zatar. My husband had the Luqaimat. He loves that stuff. He loves all kinds of local food. I am sure you would too
    next time I am there will get some tea to try. Although I am a coffee person too

    1. Walaikum Assalam, Super Space.

      Oh, I have to try the Luqaimat. There’s a Pakistani/Indian version of that too, but I’d like to try the local one.

      And yeah, Global Village is fun!

    1. Thanks! Tea with milk is something I have at least once a day 😀

      These fancy tea-with-flowers thing is for when I feel like drinking something light and refreshing for a change.

      Oh, and welcome to the Purple Journal!

    1. Thank you, Smiley! Yep, “Syria” has been a good experience at the Global Village. The biggest and most crowded pavilion was India’s though.

      Yeah, Mezba’s doing a great job, mashaAllah.

  3. lol….i thought u WERE in Syria!!! anyway, u just made me feel like going to the Arab street and try my luck finding turkish tea to help me with “Something, something, haazma, maada, something, something” 😉

    1. Leena, as you’ll grow…er, bigger (in a good way :D) you’re haazma will be bit slower, so yeah, maybe you do need something, something for your haazma, lol 😀

    1. Haris, thank you! I’m planning to change my blog header every month and sort of create a page just for them. Let’s see if I can actually get to doing that.

      Oh, and welcome back! We missed you around here 😀

  4. Awesome!
    That tea guy looks elegant but you made a hilarious presentation of him. 😛
    “Something, something, something, chai,”
    “Something, something, haazma, maada, something, something,”

    I can smell the tea right here; Smells/Looks terrific. Though, I never drank anything else than traditional milk tea or Qehwa.

    1. Raheel, the tea guy and I were having this really funny conversation, waving our hands all over the place, partly doing sign language of some sort: me speaking in English while he continues in Farsi. But regardless of the language barrier, he still managed to sell his goods 😀

      And this tea is similar to qehwa, only infused with real flowers that float in your cup 🙂

  5. I was gonna gasp if you had said you went to Syria… Because I was vacationing in Istanbul, Damascus and Baghdad last 2 weeks and would have liked to meet you guys (if you had made the trip down there)

    1. Behbood, one look at those pictures and I’m certain you must’ve noticed that I wasn’t in Syria 😀

      So that’s why you were away from the blogosphere for a thousand years! Do tell us everything about your Istanbul trip—I’d love to visit that place in 2011.

  6. Thank you for visiting my blog. My background is Sri Lankan so I used to drink tea when I was small. But after I moved to Melbourne in Australia, I became a coffee girl.
    I can’t drink herbal teas though especially as I don’t like having sugar in warm drinks.
    Well I do like lychee ice tea, I suppose. But I enjoy the aroma of tea brewing.

    1. You need not add sugar in your herbal tea, leadinglight. I particularly enjoy the mint-flavored ones; they taste very good even without the sugar.

      Lychee iced tea is great! 🙂

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