Sep 20, 2011

Recipe for Ethiopian Tea

One of the many benefits of adopting children from a foreign country, has been the blessing of discovering culture through our taste buds.  With two beautiful Ethiopian daughters (age 3 and 14), we have thankfully been led into Ethiopian foods and drink. I think having a 14 year old who grew up within the culture has helped us retain many of the traditions within the Ethiopian daily life.

It wasn't until I pushed my buna (coffee) cup away-that I learned to love Ethiopian tea.  Now I don't know how they prepare this in Ethiopia, in Addis Ababa I only experience a real buna ceremony. But in my Ethiopian church, this tea is served during fellowship time at gatherings close. 

All of us look forward to a cup, each of my kids always line up to get handed their own cup of tea, including our 3 year old.  They normally pair it with Ethiopian bread, which is a yummy partnership: caffeine and carbohydrates-in my book you can't go wrong there! 

Ethiopian traditional tea
What you will need:

tea pot 
(mine is a stove top whistling model-I try to get whistled at a few times a week at least)
4-5 black tea bags 
(well for a typical tea kettle size)
(my Ethiopian friends like the Lipton variety)
8-15 whole cloves
5-8 cardamom (the green whole variety)
one cinnamon stick (about 3 inches long)
fresh cold water to fill the kettle with
sugar to taste (but my Ethiopian friends aren't afraid of sugar, enough said).

Put all ingredients into the kettle.  Bring to a boil.  Let sit for 3 minutes, fish out tea bags (which if you were smart, you let those cute little strings hang out over the edge of the kettle and secure them with the lid).
Pour into cups, add sugar while hot.

Personally, I don't drink tea black or with tea with sugar, but this is beyond lovely this way.
You can reuse the spices and tea bags for another round,
often I reuse mine for several days before discarding them.
They sit their waiting, patiently waiting for some fresh water, so they can get to business!

To change it up once in a while (hey, a girl has to have change, right?) I sometimes throw in some fresh ginger, a big hunk with the rest of the spices before brewing occurs.

Hope you will give it a try and let me know what you think!

(easily found at an Indian market)

(you only need one, but the one I had looked so lonely 
that i brought a friend along for the photo shoot)


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Karen said...

Sounds delicious!

Anonymous said...

I was invited along with a friend to an Ethiopian woman's home for dinner years ago. I remember the tea she served at the end of the meal. It was pink and tasted like warm, sweet cinnamon. I have since moved twice and lost contact with her. any idea what this tea might have been??? It definitely didn't have black tea in it ~ just a clear, rosy pink with a sweet cinnamonish taste. I literally crave this tea to this day!
Oh, and the food was delicious. The lasagna was a surprise being very noodly with almost no sauce and a bit of pumpkin pie spice or something. Definitely not like our Italian American lasagna. What a treat, though!! I'll never forget it.

"Indescribable" said...

I clearly remember the smile on my little one's face when she tasted this tea for the first time since joining our family and she exclaimed, "This is E-tiopian Tea!"
LOVE this tea!

Robin said...

Sounds lovely! Can't wait to try it.

Expat Mom said...

Sounds really good, we'll definitely be trying it. I have to find some cardamom first, though . . .

Stace said...

THANK YOU! We made this tonight for our daughter's project on Ethiopia. I found cardamon at our Kroger but it was $11 and then at our Ethiopian marrket but it was still $8... So, sadly, I skipped it. The tea is still tasty but sure it would be better with cardamon!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

You have a beautiful family and i loved reading about all of your adopted children. Thank you for sharing your love and expanding your family with adoption. my husband is adopted and i am so grateful to his mom for raising such a wonderful boy all by herself in the 1960s. his life would have been so different without her. Adoption is truly a blessing for everyone involved.

Thank you too for sharing this lovely recipe. It turned out perfectly. I just visited an ethiopian resaurant in San Diego on a trip and fell in love with the tea. Im so happy you posted this so i can continue to enjoy the experience at home :). Many blessings to you and your beautiful family.

David Lee said...

You story seems true, because I saw many similar situation at my friend home. Their children line up for Arabica Coffee. Its a great article I enjoy lot.

Shimelse Mekonnen said...

Great post. you can find ingredients to make Ethiopian tea on

Sandy said...

Thank you for this! I have been hoarding a small amount (less than a teaspoon) of Ethiopian tea spices which I was given by my friend who works in Ethiopia Grace Village.

When she was here one year, I went with her to London for a meeting with someone at a Tigrinyan organisation. We were served the wonderful spicy tea in a clear glass thick with sugar at the bottom. I am a tea drinker anyway, but this was wonderful!

Just recently I was gifted a glass teapot and it seemed just the thing for loose tea and spices. So, I have rationed the dust left of my spices carefully, but now I REALLY need to find out how to make it! and tada! here you are. I have these spices, so I can treat myself more than now and then.
Sandy in the UK
PS I have friends who have adopted 2 Ethiopian girls. So pretty!

popolary said...

Hi. I tried this and mine came out kind of bitter. Any ideas how to remedy this? Thanks so so much!

Kimmie said...

Hi Popolary,

I find tea becomes bitter if left to brew too long. Perhaps try some fresh tea and brew it for a shorter period of time. Recommended brewing time is 3 minutes, but many people are caffeine sensitive and that is just too long of a brewing time for their bodies.

You could also try to use fewer tea bags. Hope that helps!


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