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Senegalese tea, named attaya, is drunk the same way across the Sahel. Wherever I am, boys and men will be hunched around a small chipped enamel tea pot, sat upon a couple of lumps of charcoal. It’s more than a drink. The process of making and drinking takes an hour or three and is time for chat, gossip and to discuss the football. Everyone tells me it is the drink of Africa, although the tea itself is Chinese and the process imported by Arabs from the north.
There's a very precise process to making it, which goes something like this: The pot, tray and shot glasses are carefully washed. An entire packet of gun powder green tea is added to the pot with three shots of water and put on the coals. Once boiling, a level shot glass of sugar is added, and the pot left to boil for a further 5 or 10 minutes. A piece of card from the tea packet is used to block the spout and the rest as a handle. A shot glass is filled from the pot from at least one foot above, often two. I've only ever see one person miss. That was me. The tea is poured back and forth between the glass and pot 15 to 20 times. Then, the pot is returned to the fire for a while, then the shot glass refilled again - always from a height. This time the tea is poured back and forth between two glasses. Always from a height. Last time I watched I counted 30 pours. The pot is reheated some more. Then the glasses are filled and served, to guests or the most senior person first. It is dark green, frothy and you can almost see the tannin.
The pot is refilled with water and another glass of sugar, using the same tea leaves. The entire process is repeated, and then again for the third and final serving, by which time the tea is spent. The first cup is strong and bitter. This is for death. The second cup is sweeter but still strong. This is for life. The third and final cup is very sweet and my favorite. This one's for love.
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