Disclaimer: the title was my attempt to be funny by referencing the tea party scene Alice in Wonderland. Anyway, tea time is what I look forward to everyday here in Senegal. Whether it is a quick cup of Lipton before school starts, homemade mint Senegalese tea with my host family before dinner or attaya after dinner at a friends house, lets just say I keep pretty energized most of the day. In fact, it is very common for a friend to text you just to invite you over for tea time at their house. However, as I have learned tea time in Senegal is not just a sip and run situation.
Drinking attaya, traditional Senegalese tea, has become one of my favorite activities to indulge in while studying abroad here. The tea is very sweet, strong and delicious and there is this entire process that goes into preparing attaya, which makes it quite the social event. Sometimes, many times a day. Walking around the busy market in my neighborhood around the afternoon I see men sitting under a tree or friends sitting outside their homes preparing attaya and sharing stories about their days.
There are three stages of attaya drinking and each cup full gets a bit sweeter. It is made in a kettle and heated over coal and when it is ready, who ever is preparing the attaya pours a bit into a double shot glass and pours the attaya back and forth between the shot glasses until the perfect amount of foam forms. Now, the correct way to drink attaya is the complete opposite of how I was taught to drink beverages. You are given attaya in small double shot glasses and are supposed to drink it fast and SLURRRRRP then say AHHHHHHHHHHH.
In the states I am used to grabbing my tall with whip cinnamon dolce white mocha to go so that I can enjoy my caffeine alone in my car listening to something depressing like The Cure. However, as I have expressed in other blog posts, there really are not that many opportunities when you are alone here (nope, not even the bathroom). It is very important to constantly be surrounded by friends and family. This aspect of Senegal is something that I have grown fond of and am realizing how much of a happier person I am when I am surrounded by great friends and the strongest tea on the planet.