Some like it hot! The Middle East's hot drink winter-warmers for surviving the cold snap

Published January 14th, 2015 - 02:37 GMT

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Each country serves its own selection of traditional drinks, some being seasonally rotating, and the Middle East is no different. But when it comes to frosty winters in the otherwise sunny strongholds - did someone say “Huda”? - Arabs have just the right winter-warmers to get your temperatures and moods soaring. 

Comfort zone hot drink cosy classics Continue reading below »

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Iraqi tea - Dark, strong and very well-brewed, just like Iraqi men! The tea is brewed until it’s very dark, before adding the ground cardamom and leaving it to brew some more! No one has been known to try this heavenly drink and not enjoy it. Once you go Iraq(-i- tea), you never go back!
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Image 1 of 11:  1 / 11Iraqi tea - Dark, strong and very well-brewed, just like Iraqi men! The tea is brewed until it’s very dark, before adding the ground cardamom and leaving it to brew some more! No one has been known to try this heavenly drink and not enjoy it. Once you go Iraq(-i- tea), you never go back!

Enlarge
Sahlab is a winter staple and treat in the MidEast. It comes as a hot, white, creamy, mildly thick drink, or a creamier dessert - either way -  it warms up your senses. This milk base with sahlab powder -- dried roots of an orchid --rose water & mastic -- tastes wholesome & hits the spot with the extra topping of cinnamon, coconut & pistachios.
Reduce

Image 2 of 11:  2 / 11Sahlab is a winter staple and treat in the MidEast. It comes as a hot, white, creamy, mildly thick drink, or a creamier dessert - either way - it warms up your senses. This milk base with sahlab powder -- dried roots of an orchid --rose water & mastic -- tastes wholesome & hits the spot with the extra topping of cinnamon, coconut & pistachios.

Enlarge
Persian Chai - Tea & roses go hand-in-hand when it comes to Persian tea, or Chai, for Iranians. Bring a generous amount of loose tea & a pinch of rose petals to the boil, then wait for the beautiful scent of roses to caress your nose. It tastes as good as it smells. Some add cloves & cinnamon -- Indian or Eritrean-style-- for a warming boost!
Reduce

Image 3 of 11:  3 / 11Persian Chai - Tea & roses go hand-in-hand when it comes to Persian tea, or Chai, for Iranians. Bring a generous amount of loose tea & a pinch of rose petals to the boil, then wait for the beautiful scent of roses to caress your nose. It tastes as good as it smells. Some add cloves & cinnamon -- Indian or Eritrean-style-- for a warming boost!

Enlarge
Moroccan tea -This café favorite has become popularized in tea salons far from the MidEast.  A mix of fresh mint leaves & “gunpowder” green tea, the real appeal lies in the distinctive way it is poured! The pot is held high above the glasses for that classic stylish serving. You typically chain drink three cups, each one sweeter than the last!
Reduce

Image 4 of 11:  4 / 11Moroccan tea -This café favorite has become popularized in tea salons far from the MidEast. A mix of fresh mint leaves & “gunpowder” green tea, the real appeal lies in the distinctive way it is poured! The pot is held high above the glasses for that classic stylish serving. You typically chain drink three cups, each one sweeter than the last!

Enlarge
Turkish tea - much like other black tea preparations of the region, but brewed extra strong in a two-part kettle. It’s served with plain hot water so that individuals can dilute it to their preferred level. Often it comes with two lumps of sugar beside the traditional tulip-shaped glass, and a coaxing to buy a carpet if you're in a souk!
Reduce

Image 5 of 11:  5 / 11Turkish tea - much like other black tea preparations of the region, but brewed extra strong in a two-part kettle. It’s served with plain hot water so that individuals can dilute it to their preferred level. Often it comes with two lumps of sugar beside the traditional tulip-shaped glass, and a coaxing to buy a carpet if you're in a souk!

Enlarge
Bedouin tea - Outside the hustle and bustle of the city, you’re likely to be served sweetened tea with desert sage, a classic Bedouin recipe brewed over an open fire. It can also be made with other wild herbs, such as thyme. Whatever the recipe, Bedouin tea is a soothing comfort on a classic cold windy desert night.
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Image 6 of 11:  6 / 11Bedouin tea - Outside the hustle and bustle of the city, you’re likely to be served sweetened tea with desert sage, a classic Bedouin recipe brewed over an open fire. It can also be made with other wild herbs, such as thyme. Whatever the recipe, Bedouin tea is a soothing comfort on a classic cold windy desert night.

Enlarge
Hot Cinnamon -turns up the heat, but it's not for boys! If you've ever noticed Arab women knocking back mugs of this hot drink, of boiled cinnamon sticks in water, year-round, it is not for its aromatic naturally sweet flavor alone. It's for its medicinal properties said to spur blood circulation, helping 'cycles' along and reducing any pain.
Reduce

Image 7 of 11:  7 / 11Hot Cinnamon -turns up the heat, but it's not for boys! If you've ever noticed Arab women knocking back mugs of this hot drink, of boiled cinnamon sticks in water, year-round, it is not for its aromatic naturally sweet flavor alone. It's for its medicinal properties said to spur blood circulation, helping 'cycles' along and reducing any pain.

Enlarge
Karawya or Mughli - This typically comes in pudding form but also a thick warm drink to celebrate the births. Served also year-round as a wintery item, the healthy puree consists of ground caraway seeds, starch, cinnamon and sugar.  Dive into a mug of goodness, or a fragrant gooey pud that leaves you satisfied thanks to the mixed nut topping.
Reduce

Image 8 of 11:  8 / 11Karawya or Mughli - This typically comes in pudding form but also a thick warm drink to celebrate the births. Served also year-round as a wintery item, the healthy puree consists of ground caraway seeds, starch, cinnamon and sugar. Dive into a mug of goodness, or a fragrant gooey pud that leaves you satisfied thanks to the mixed nut topping.

Enlarge
Alright, Mate? Popular in Lebanon and Syria, and traditionally drunk socially, mate is served in a shared wooden gourd with a special metal straw. The sweet & sour drink is made soaking the herbs in cold then boiled water with a squeeze of lemon to finish. Maybe an acquired taste, the joke was that George Clooney would swap Nespresso for 'mate'.
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Image 9 of 11:  9 / 11Alright, Mate? Popular in Lebanon and Syria, and traditionally drunk socially, mate is served in a shared wooden gourd with a special metal straw. The sweet & sour drink is made soaking the herbs in cold then boiled water with a squeeze of lemon to finish. Maybe an acquired taste, the joke was that George Clooney would swap Nespresso for 'mate'.

Enlarge
Karkade/ Hot Hibiscus:  Crimson colored, and sour & cranberry-like to the taste, this aromatic & versatile herbal drink can be served as a hot winter warmer or a refreshing summer cooler. Traditionally sipped in Egypt, and the Levant, karkade is an infusion of the red roselle hibiscus flowers & orange blossom water. A fragrant feast for the buds!
Reduce

Image 10 of 11:  10 / 11Karkade/ Hot Hibiscus: Crimson colored, and sour & cranberry-like to the taste, this aromatic & versatile herbal drink can be served as a hot winter warmer or a refreshing summer cooler. Traditionally sipped in Egypt, and the Levant, karkade is an infusion of the red roselle hibiscus flowers & orange blossom water. A fragrant feast for the buds!

Enlarge
The land of milk and honey! Or, Haleeb with Haal (Milk with Cardamom) - Cardamom helps the digestive system along and is a common spice used in foods in the region. Boiled with milk, cardamom helps to relax the body and is thought to calm the stomach, thus sponsoring a good night's rest.
Reduce

Image 11 of 11:  11 / 11The land of milk and honey! Or, Haleeb with Haal (Milk with Cardamom) - Cardamom helps the digestive system along and is a common spice used in foods in the region. Boiled with milk, cardamom helps to relax the body and is thought to calm the stomach, thus sponsoring a good night's rest.

Enlarge

1

Iraqi tea - Dark, strong and very well-brewed, just like Iraqi men! The tea is brewed until it’s very dark, before adding the ground cardamom and leaving it to brew some more! No one has been known to try this heavenly drink and not enjoy it. Once you go Iraq(-i- tea), you never go back!

Image 1 of 11Iraqi tea - Dark, strong and very well-brewed, just like Iraqi men! The tea is brewed until it’s very dark, before adding the ground cardamom and leaving it to brew some more! No one has been known to try this heavenly drink and not enjoy it. Once you go Iraq(-i- tea), you never go back!

2

Sahlab is a winter staple and treat in the MidEast. It comes as a hot, white, creamy, mildly thick drink, or a creamier dessert - either way -  it warms up your senses. This milk base with sahlab powder -- dried roots of an orchid --rose water & mastic -- tastes wholesome & hits the spot with the extra topping of cinnamon, coconut & pistachios.

Image 2 of 11Sahlab is a winter staple and treat in the MidEast. It comes as a hot, white, creamy, mildly thick drink, or a creamier dessert - either way - it warms up your senses. This milk base with sahlab powder -- dried roots of an orchid --rose water & mastic -- tastes wholesome & hits the spot with the extra topping of cinnamon, coconut & pistachios.

3

Persian Chai - Tea & roses go hand-in-hand when it comes to Persian tea, or Chai, for Iranians. Bring a generous amount of loose tea & a pinch of rose petals to the boil, then wait for the beautiful scent of roses to caress your nose. It tastes as good as it smells. Some add cloves & cinnamon -- Indian or Eritrean-style-- for a warming boost!

Image 3 of 11Persian Chai - Tea & roses go hand-in-hand when it comes to Persian tea, or Chai, for Iranians. Bring a generous amount of loose tea & a pinch of rose petals to the boil, then wait for the beautiful scent of roses to caress your nose. It tastes as good as it smells. Some add cloves & cinnamon -- Indian or Eritrean-style-- for a warming boost!

4

Moroccan tea -This café favorite has become popularized in tea salons far from the MidEast.  A mix of fresh mint leaves & “gunpowder” green tea, the real appeal lies in the distinctive way it is poured! The pot is held high above the glasses for that classic stylish serving. You typically chain drink three cups, each one sweeter than the last!

Image 4 of 11Moroccan tea -This café favorite has become popularized in tea salons far from the MidEast. A mix of fresh mint leaves & “gunpowder” green tea, the real appeal lies in the distinctive way it is poured! The pot is held high above the glasses for that classic stylish serving. You typically chain drink three cups, each one sweeter than the last!

5

Turkish tea - much like other black tea preparations of the region, but brewed extra strong in a two-part kettle. It’s served with plain hot water so that individuals can dilute it to their preferred level. Often it comes with two lumps of sugar beside the traditional tulip-shaped glass, and a coaxing to buy a carpet if you're in a souk!

Image 5 of 11Turkish tea - much like other black tea preparations of the region, but brewed extra strong in a two-part kettle. It’s served with plain hot water so that individuals can dilute it to their preferred level. Often it comes with two lumps of sugar beside the traditional tulip-shaped glass, and a coaxing to buy a carpet if you're in a souk!

6

Bedouin tea - Outside the hustle and bustle of the city, you’re likely to be served sweetened tea with desert sage, a classic Bedouin recipe brewed over an open fire. It can also be made with other wild herbs, such as thyme. Whatever the recipe, Bedouin tea is a soothing comfort on a classic cold windy desert night.

Image 6 of 11Bedouin tea - Outside the hustle and bustle of the city, you’re likely to be served sweetened tea with desert sage, a classic Bedouin recipe brewed over an open fire. It can also be made with other wild herbs, such as thyme. Whatever the recipe, Bedouin tea is a soothing comfort on a classic cold windy desert night.

7

Hot Cinnamon -turns up the heat, but it's not for boys! If you've ever noticed Arab women knocking back mugs of this hot drink, of boiled cinnamon sticks in water, year-round, it is not for its aromatic naturally sweet flavor alone. It's for its medicinal properties said to spur blood circulation, helping 'cycles' along and reducing any pain.

Image 7 of 11Hot Cinnamon -turns up the heat, but it's not for boys! If you've ever noticed Arab women knocking back mugs of this hot drink, of boiled cinnamon sticks in water, year-round, it is not for its aromatic naturally sweet flavor alone. It's for its medicinal properties said to spur blood circulation, helping 'cycles' along and reducing any pain.

8

Karawya or Mughli - This typically comes in pudding form but also a thick warm drink to celebrate the births. Served also year-round as a wintery item, the healthy puree consists of ground caraway seeds, starch, cinnamon and sugar.  Dive into a mug of goodness, or a fragrant gooey pud that leaves you satisfied thanks to the mixed nut topping.

Image 8 of 11Karawya or Mughli - This typically comes in pudding form but also a thick warm drink to celebrate the births. Served also year-round as a wintery item, the healthy puree consists of ground caraway seeds, starch, cinnamon and sugar. Dive into a mug of goodness, or a fragrant gooey pud that leaves you satisfied thanks to the mixed nut topping.

9

Alright, Mate? Popular in Lebanon and Syria, and traditionally drunk socially, mate is served in a shared wooden gourd with a special metal straw. The sweet & sour drink is made soaking the herbs in cold then boiled water with a squeeze of lemon to finish. Maybe an acquired taste, the joke was that George Clooney would swap Nespresso for 'mate'.

Image 9 of 11Alright, Mate? Popular in Lebanon and Syria, and traditionally drunk socially, mate is served in a shared wooden gourd with a special metal straw. The sweet & sour drink is made soaking the herbs in cold then boiled water with a squeeze of lemon to finish. Maybe an acquired taste, the joke was that George Clooney would swap Nespresso for 'mate'.

10

Karkade/ Hot Hibiscus:  Crimson colored, and sour & cranberry-like to the taste, this aromatic & versatile herbal drink can be served as a hot winter warmer or a refreshing summer cooler. Traditionally sipped in Egypt, and the Levant, karkade is an infusion of the red roselle hibiscus flowers & orange blossom water. A fragrant feast for the buds!

Image 10 of 11Karkade/ Hot Hibiscus: Crimson colored, and sour & cranberry-like to the taste, this aromatic & versatile herbal drink can be served as a hot winter warmer or a refreshing summer cooler. Traditionally sipped in Egypt, and the Levant, karkade is an infusion of the red roselle hibiscus flowers & orange blossom water. A fragrant feast for the buds!

11

The land of milk and honey! Or, Haleeb with Haal (Milk with Cardamom) - Cardamom helps the digestive system along and is a common spice used in foods in the region. Boiled with milk, cardamom helps to relax the body and is thought to calm the stomach, thus sponsoring a good night's rest.

Image 11 of 11The land of milk and honey! Or, Haleeb with Haal (Milk with Cardamom) - Cardamom helps the digestive system along and is a common spice used in foods in the region. Boiled with milk, cardamom helps to relax the body and is thought to calm the stomach, thus sponsoring a good night's rest.

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The entire Levant and much of the Middle East has been cooped up at home with the arrival of snow storm “Huda,” which, as well as sending temperatures plunging well below seasonal averages, sent a thousand kettles whistling in homes afflicted with serious cabin fever.  Regional homes often lacking insulation and where central heating (if an option) is extremely costly,  cry out for for rounds of tea, herbal infusions and other hot winter specialties that surface for those feeling the winter chills at home or even in cafes that weathered the cold spells and storms and kept their doors open to chilly customers. When you can’t face the harsh elements, your best bet is a nice comforting cuppa, slippers and a blanket.

Nothing tastes better on a bone-chilling day than a piping hot beverage. The problem is many popular coffee shop concoctions hide copious amounts of calories in whipped cream, fatty flavored syrups, and sugary toppings. Less than ideal when getting sedentary and indoorsy and putting exercise regimes to rest for the snowed-in hiatus.These regional warm bevvies, stripped of unnecessary calories and saturated fats, offer deliciously healthy alternatives made with locally-sourced ingredients.

So how else best to keep toasty as the temperatures dip? You could turn up the heat by watching a Mia Khalifa adult flick, but we recommend warming your insides by brewing up one of the Middle East’s many classic - and tasty - hot drinks instead. As you huddle around your sobba (space heater), try one of Al Bawaba’s favorite brews in our hot hot hot deck of drinks. That’s assuming your electricity is on, and your iPad charged so that can even read this… 

So, what are you waiting for, get your kettles and pots on!

 

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