Middle Eastern Drinks

Written by Sarah Bednar
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Middle Eastern drinks are as varied and unique as the cuisine of the region. In general, they fall into four categories: coffees, teas, milk-based drinks, and juices. All have their origins in the fruits, leaves and animals that were available to the nomadic tribes through the centuries. Even today, hospitality is offered to guests in the form of a cup of coffee or spiced tea, shared with their hosts as a symbol of good will.

Middle Eastern Drinks Take Many Forms

Coffee is an Arabic tradition much in the same way that tea is to the English, or cola is to Americans. It is strongly brewed, often heavily spiced with cardamom and quite sweet. Green coffee beans are roasted then crushed with a mortar and pestle. The grounds are boiled with cardamom seeds, sugar and saffron. Tea is also a popular beverage. Generally, it is spicy and sweet, flavored with anise, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and mint.

Milk-based beverages are made from goat milk and spiced with cinnamon, saffron, almonds and other spices. Ayraan is a yogurt drink. Haleeb ma Hal is boiled milk with cardamom. Yogurt and cucumber flavored with mint and served with ice will remind Westerners of an ice cream shake. Juice drinks use local Middle Eastern fruits such as mango, guava and dates. They are mashed and pureed or added to tea as infusions.

Middle Eastern drinks are an important part of rituals and an expression of Arab hospitality. They reflect the tastes of the many cultures of the region. For those who want to experience these beverages, Middle Eastern drinks are available at import stores and through online suppliers of Arabic foods. Their distinctive flavors will evoke the exotic world of the Middle East.

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