Great poetry has been written about the perfect brew of tea.
Tea has been around for much longer than coffee, and holds a place near and dear to every culture on the face of this Earth.
The Japanese have an elaborate tea ceremony.
The Chinese can fill a grocery shop composed solely of their various teas.
The British made afternoon tea-time just as important as breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Americans had their (in)famous Boston Tea Party.
And the Iraqis? Well the Iraqis probably drink tea just as much as water.
Tea bags are a horrifying joke. Only loose tea leaves are used, and of your own choice. Ceylon an earl grey are the most common, and a particular favorite amongst the Iraqi households is Ahmad tea, a British-made special blend with earl grey. They say the word istikan (the small glass the tea is served in) originated from the time when the British colonized Iraq and would ask for "east tea can," referring to a can of tea imported from the East (India, Sri Lanka). So this developed into the famous istkan (جاي أو شاي إستكان).
Iraqis love their tea year-round. You can even see them sipping the steaming istikans outside local cafés in the middle of a scorching summer day.
Iraqis also like their sugar, so the istikans are generously spooned with sugar before the tea is poured, and the swirling sugar as the tea is stirred is a comforting joy every time (it also prevents the glass from cracking under the heat).
If your tea is fragrant, like Ahmed tea is, then that's great. Otherwise, add a few cracked cardamom pods to the leaves before simmering.
A big thanks to Nadia, who is a reader of MCW and whom I consider a friend, to request this post. Were it not for her request, I probably would never have posted it as it is, to me, an everyday thing that is easily overlooked.
2 Tbsp loose tea
4 cups pure water
In a kettle, place the tea leaves and the cold water.
Bring the water slowly to a simmer.
It is important to not let the water boil, as this will render the tea bitter.
Simmer the tea for 7 to 10 minutes.
Serve in istikans, with sugar and a side of kleicha.
Alternatively, place the kettle with the tea over another kettle with vigorously boiling water.
This indirect heat method to brew the tea will ensure that you do not boil the tea at any point, thus avoiding the bitterness.
If some find the tea too dark, you could fill the istikan half-way and top with plain boiled water.
صحة و عافية