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The Iraqi Family Cookbook

The Iraqi Family Cookbook
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Iraqi Tea-Chai الشاي العراقي

The most popular brands of tea used in Iraq are Assam black tea, Ceylon Black tea, and other brands. They are dark and strong when brewed. Sometimes we add a stick of cinnamon to the teapot or a few pods of whole cardamom to falvor the tea.
There is other variety of teas that we serve in Iraq, and they are dried lime tea, and chamomile tea. Hibiscus tea is more popular in the South. These teas are used for medicinal purposes.
We usually consume tea throughout the day, and you can find tea stalls and vendors everywhere. We drink tea with milk in the morning for breakfast. Other times of the day, we drink it black.
You need a teapot, and a kettle with boiling water
Preparation:
2 teaspoons loose black tea or (Lipton loose tea)
2 cups boiling water
Granulated sugar, or sugar cubes
Put tea in the teapot and pour the hot water. Place the cover on top of the teapot. Cover the teapot with a towel to keep the teapot warm and steep for 10 minutes. We traditionally put the teapot on top of the kettle to steep.
To serve it, we put 1 teaspoon or more of sugar in the istikan, or tea cup. Pour tea to half full, and add boiling water to top of the cup. Stir the tea cup and drink. Be careful, the istikan can be very hot. We do not strain the tea as we pour it. Tea leaves settle to the bottom of the istikan.
Sometimes we serve sugar cubes on the side.
Note: we add boiling water to the tea when we pour tea in a cup to dilute it. Tea can be very strong, and gets bitter as it sits longer on top of the kettle.