Mauritania: شاي

Tea is served to guests in many countries but in Mauritania they have elevated it to a fine art. The head of the family will make the tea and serve it as an act of hospitality. Traditionally three cups are served: the first is bitter like life, the second is sweet like love, and the third is gentle like death. This symbolism is deeply important and it is rude to refuse.

The tea is unique for a few reasons, one it is very sweet and two it is frothy. The bubbles are formed by repeatedly pouring the tea at a decent height to add air and deepen the flavor. It is a process of steeping the tea, then adding the sugar, and finally frothing the tea. In the end you have a sweet amber colored drink with a head of foam.

Green Mint Tea


  • 6 cups of water
  • 2 Tbs of Green tea
  • a dozen or so fresh mint leaves
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Tea pot/ kettle (we didn’t have this and it made the repeated pouring really hard)


Place water, tea and mint into a tea pot and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow the leaves to settle to the bottom of the pot.

Pour the tea into the cups from high up (2-3 feet), then pour them back into the tea pot.

Return the tea to a boil and boil for another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, let the leaves settle, then pour back into the cups from high up for a 2nd time.

Remove the tea and mint leaves from the tea pot. Add the sugar into the empty tea pot and then return the tea to the tea pot as well.

Repeat this again, boil for 2 minutes, let it settle, pour into the cups from a great height (third time). Return the tea to the tea pot.

Now it is time to boil it for 2 minutes for the fourth and final time.

Remove it from the heat and let the tea sit for about 10-15 minutes before serving, you guessed it, from a great height.


For another tea recipe check out our trip to India!

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