The Significance of Tea in Egyptian Culture: A Closer Look

Tea has had a profound impact on various cultures for centuries. While its origins can be traced back to China, it has spread throughout the world, influencing many regions in different ways. However, one country that is often overlooked for its tea consumption is Egypt. This article will explore the history and cultural impact of tea in Egypt, including the nation’s tea market, drinking culture, favorite tea beverages, and the importance of tea as a symbol of Egypt.

Egypt’s Tea Market & Drinking Culture

Egypt has come a long way since being a communist country and has established a civilization of tea drinkers. Tea arrived in Egypt in the 16th century and has become a national beverage, known as “shai.” The average consumption of tea per capita is around 800 to 1000 grams, with imports of earl grey, green tea, Assam, and flavored teas. Despite not producing tea, Egypt’s close proximity to the Asian mainland and African border allows for convenient introduction and accessibility of tea. Unlike British or Chinese tea culture, where tea is primarily enjoyed at specific times or during intricate ceremonies, tea is drunk morning, noon, and night in Egypt. Tea is known as an everyday necessity and is served with every meal and is enjoyed by every social class.

Egypt’s Favorite Tea Beverages

Egyptians drink black teas overwhelmingly more often than any other kind of tea. Koshary and Saiidi are the two main Egyptian tea varieties. Koshary is popular in Northern Egypt and is a black tea brewed with cane sugar and fresh mint leaves for a light and refreshing drink. Saiidi tea is commonly consumed in Southern Egypt. It is a bold and bitter black tea, sweetened with spoonfuls of cane sugar to balance the bitterness. Herbal teas are also widely consumed in Egypt, with custom tea beverages unique to the country, including Sahlab, Karkade, and Yansoon. These are made from various ingredients and herbs, such as hibiscus leaves, orchid bulb grounds, spices, and milk, to create delicious and unique tea blends.

The Symbolism of Tea in Egyptian Culture

Tea has become a symbol of Egypt, embedded in the culture from the beginning. The focus is placed more on the act of drinking tea with loved ones than the actual quality of the tea. The affordability of tea and Islamic values and influences, which prohibit alcohol consumption, are the main reasons for Egypt’s thriving tea-drinking culture. In addition to drinking at home, it is common to spend morning or evening hours at cafes sipping tea, smoking hookah, and playing backgammon or dominos. Drinking tea is more than just the drink itself; it is about taking the time to sit, enjoy a cup, and create deep connections with others. This aspect of tea culture is a great reminder to slow down and cherish the simple things in life.


Egypt’s tea culture is rich and diverse, with various types of tea consumed daily. From black teas to herbal blends, tea has become a symbol of Egypt, a way to connect with others and enjoy the simple things in life. The focus is on community and culture, and the act of drinking tea is more than just consuming a beverage; it is about creating lasting connections with others.

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