Tea Time!

Posted on June 4th, 2010 by

Tea.  Or chai. Tanzanians love their tea time.  Everyday in the late morning a special time is reserved for tea break.  When tea time comes everyone stops what they are doing and faithfully observes the break.  The tea is always the same but very good.  The black tea is served with milk and so incredibly hot that I always wonder how the Tanzanians can drink it straight away. (I have come to the conclusion that their tongues are some how genetically equipped so as to be impervious to hot temperatures.) 

As well as a love for tea, Tanzanians have a very fond appreciation of sugar.  Very fond.  After a Tanzanian receives his/her steaming cup of tea they will immediately add three or four or more heaping spoonfuls of sugar.  Whenever I observe this, the first thing that always comes to mind is ‘saturated solution’.  I’m not sure if Tanzanians are aware of this, but there is a limit as to how much sugar can be dissolved in one cup of tea.  If you take a modest amount to sugar, say two spoonfuls, you will get a strange look that translates into something like ‘crazy American’.  The strange part is that most Tanzanians don’t like sweet things.  They don’t crave desserts or eat candy like Americans but they add enormous quantities of sugar to their tea.  I’m not sure I understand that one.

Tea is often taken with a small food bit such as chapati (a flat bread) or maandazi (think doughnut minus the frosting). 

I have become much attached to the concept of tea time.  First, I like the idea of a second breakfast (though for most Tanzanians it is their breakfast).  Second, it provides a nice break in work.  And third, there is the social component that draws people together.  For these reasons, I think a tea movement should be started in America to instate a tea time in our daily lives.  I have gotten used to tea time and I don’t want to see it end.


One Comment

  1. Julia says:

    Mara, I agree–we need a tea time! Perhaps a good starting point would be reestablishing “the milk break” in elementary schools. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. Thanks for sharing with us!