Tradition is always considered good and special in the Arab world, whether it’s food, clothes or, in today’s case, drinks. In this post, we’re going to learn about a number of traditional drinks. People in different parts of the Arab world make and consume these. What is especially good about these drinks is that they are made with fresh fruits and herbs. Consequently, making them not just tasty, but healthy as well!
Though Matteh may look like green tea, not only is it made from different herbs, but it also tastes different. The drink is easy to make: Simply add boiling water to a mixture of ground, dried leaves and herbs. It can taste slightly bitter and strong. However, you can add a bit of flavor to make it less so. A few popular aditions would such as sugar, thyme, wild mint or ginger.
Although matteh contains caffeine, it often helps one to relax and is believed to be effective against migraines. It is usually drunk with a straw made specifically for this drink calleda jozeh. This drink is very popular in both Syria and Lebanon. It is typically drunk on a daily basis by both Syrians and Lebanese alike.
This isn’t just any old tea – this is mint tea! Arab etiquette and hospitality begin with mint tea. You will often find them drinking this beverage multiple times a day. A guest can never leave a host’s house without sharing a cup of tea with them.
Qamardeen, another popular drink during Ramadan, is a thick apricot beverage that’s made using dried apricot paste. It’s a staple at most Arab homes and a wonderful drink to share with family and friends.
Jallab is another famous drink from Syrian and Lebanese drink that combines the tastes of both sweet and sour. It is made from date syrup, rose water, water and ice. Some people like to add pine nuts to it, while others like to keep it simple. Still, others might choose to replace the date syrup with grape syrup. It all really depends on what you’re in the mood for at the moment.
Serving Arabic coffee in Jordan is a sign of respect, especially in the Bedouin culture. Of course, this tradition is not strictly Jordanian but spans across the whole Arab world. Arabic coffee is slightly bitter, usually infused with cardamom. People serve it in a very small bowl-like coffee cup, or finjan, with some dates on the side.
Sahlab is a cozy, warm drink that is specifically consumed in the winter. It is a good source of calcium while also providing warmth and energy. It’s affordable and easy to make. All you need is cane sugar, corn starch, cinnamon and orange blossom water. You can also add ground nuts on top such as coconut, pistachio or almonds.
While not strictly an Arabic drink, lemonade infused with cooling mint is a best-seller. It aids digestion and relieves heartburn. And after a day of basking in the sun, there’s no better way to cool down! Indeed, there’s also nothing better than “lemon-mint” to wash down your daily meal.
Though lemon-mint might be the most popular juice, there are other local favorites as well. One of these is tamar hindi, a popular traditional drink served throughout the Levant. You can achieve the perfectly sweet and tangy taste by combining soaked, crushed tamarind with water, sugar and lemon juice. Other fresh juices including watermelon, pineapple and papaya also feature heavily on juice bar menus across the Middle East.
Contrary to popular belief, alcohol is sold in the Middle East. You might find alcohol sold only in hotel bars and restaurants or in specialized liquor stores. Obviously, this depends on the region and how traditional it is. However, due to the prevalence of the Islamic faith in the region, not everyone can run a liquor store. For example, a liquor store owner in Jordan must be a Christian.
Although these are not specific drinks in the Middle East, but popular worldwide. You should know how to ask for water or milk when visiting an Arab country.
Now that you’ve had a taste of Arabic culture through its choice of drinks, you might be inspired to start learning the beautiful language as well. So please check out our other articles. With the proper language skills you can take the Middle-East by storm. All this while ordering your food and drink in Arabic along the way! If you wish to learn more about the Arabic language, download our Arabic learning app