West African green tea culture

Non-oxidized tea
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mbanu
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Tue Feb 02, 2021 3:08 pm

Thought this deserved it's own thread. Originating in Morocco and then slowly spreading throughout Western Africa, adjusting for local conditions, to most of the countries west of Egypt, Chad, and Nigeria. Boiled green tea, sometimes gunpowder, sometimes chunmee, usually Chinese but occasionally grown locally, sometimes flavored with herbs such as mint or wormwood, but always sweetened and frothed. :)

Image courtesy of the Virtual Green Tee Museum, a project of the German university Goethe University Frankfurt.
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mbanu
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Tue Feb 02, 2021 3:20 pm

With many of these countries being Muslim, tea often plays a role played by alcohol elsewhere. For instance, tea is often connected to the local music scene -- an example from the 90s and an example from today. :D


mbanu
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Tue Feb 02, 2021 3:32 pm

An "ataya base", which is the Sierra Leone version of a teahouse, the exterior of one in Mabendo, and the interior of another in Freetown. As can be seen these normally have quite simple construction, but can be very popular during normal times.
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mbanu
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Tue Feb 02, 2021 4:06 pm

For various political reasons during the nationalized era, China helped Mali to build its own tea farms, as described in this 1965 infomercial in the Peking Review, an English-language political magazine. Tea is still produced in Mali at the Farako Tea Factory, although with no economy of scale it struggles to compete against Chinese green tea. It looks like the factory may have shut down in 2011, and while there have been attempts to resurrect it, I am not sure that they have been successful.
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Bok
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Tue Feb 02, 2021 6:29 pm

Very interesting, thanks! And if you don’t mind me saying, much more so than the US housewife tea history :lol:
mbanu
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Wed Feb 03, 2021 10:20 am

A Simida green tea van -- apparently they do a lot of advertising like Cheval.

Also, a commercial -- wasn't sure whether to put it here or in the Tea Commercials thread, but thought maybe that it was more interesting as a non-commercial.



A glimpse of a Mali teashop, promoting jasmine tea brewed West African style, and using a Yixing teapot as a brand logo despite not being a type of teapot used in West Africa.

Also note the grade listed on the package -- this is a bit different to how a gunpowder or "young hyson" chunmee would be sold in America, where the Chinese grading system for these teas is neither well-known nor looked for.
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Victoria
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Wed Feb 03, 2021 1:58 pm

Very interesting and colorful topic. Pouring from up high continuously to produce foam is curious, like a dance. Reminds me of an Argentine custom where Nescafé instant granules are beat with sugar and a little hot water to produce a thick foam before more hot water is added. Similar to the milk foam in a capuchino, except it’s mostly whipped up insta-coffee and sugar.
mbanu
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Thu Feb 04, 2021 10:28 pm

Victoria wrote:
Wed Feb 03, 2021 1:58 pm
Very interesting and colorful topic. Pouring from up high continuously to produce foam is curious, like a dance.
I think this is to aerate the tea because it has been boiled. This is also done with a few other styles of boiled tea like Teh Tarik and Hong Kong style milk tea. With practice, apparently it becomes easy to do anywhere. :D

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Thu Feb 04, 2021 10:54 pm

Wow, now that takes some skill :) .
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Tue Feb 23, 2021 12:16 am

One thing that struck me is the huge number of knock-off gunpowder tea brands. In the English-speaking world, people are often rather dismissive of gunpowder tea and of the State tea brands like Camel or Temple of Heaven, but there seem to be almost as many knock-off packages as there are for pu'er tea. (I'm not sure if the gunpowder market struggles with direct counterfeits like the pu'er market, though.)

I wonder if there is a clue in the flower-patterns... Chinese Treasure and Red Temple both have the same pattern, for example; were they made by the same brand?
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mbanu
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Tue Feb 23, 2021 1:00 am

An ad for Thé Flécha. While it is always hard to tell with ads whether they reflect local conditions or are trying to promote new trends, this one is interesting because it shows that while glasses without handles are still the standard, that glasses with handles can be found with this tea-style also. Plus little differences that are taken for granted, such as the college students bringing a portable gas stove to a friend's dorm room. :)

mbanu
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Tue Feb 23, 2021 1:37 am

mbanu wrote:
Tue Feb 23, 2021 12:16 am
One thing that struck me is the huge number of knock-off gunpowder tea brands.
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Sometimes the knock-off is the logo rather than the packaging. For instance, a box of gunpowder with a camel on it must be Camel brand, right? Not necessarily! Here we have a slightly different camel logo (in silhouette) that is for a different brand, apparently produced by the Zhejiang Chunli Tea Company (with an HTTPS url, even!). :) Maybe this is not strictly a copy-cat case, it sounds like this company was started in 1988 as the Chunfeng Tea Factory, so perhaps it was originally a maker of Camel brand, and then lost control of it when the Zhejiang Tea Branch privatized and broke apart? (I'm not so sure on the details.)

Also, a tour of a Moroccan teashop that seems to mainly (only?) carry this brand.

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mbanu
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Fri Feb 26, 2021 5:00 pm

A common theme seems to be never to let "But we don't have a proper place to have tea-" prevent you from having tea. :) Here we have tea in the economy class seats (riding with the ore shipment) on a desert train in Mauritania.

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Victoria
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Fri Feb 26, 2021 6:54 pm

That’s so wild, even with ore and dust everywhere :) . I guess all around the world, no matter the circumstance, we are tea nuts 🍃
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Victoria
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Fri Feb 26, 2021 7:20 pm

mbanu wrote:
Tue Feb 23, 2021 1:37 am
..... Sometimes the knock-off is the logo rather than the packaging. For instance, a box of gunpowder with a camel on it must be Camel brand, right? Not necessarily! Here we have a slightly different camel logo (in silhouette) that is for a different brand, apparently produced by the Zhejiang Chunli Tea Company (with an HTTPS url, even!). :) Maybe this is not strictly a copy-cat case, it sounds like this company was started in 1988 as the Chunfeng Tea Factory, so perhaps it was originally a maker of Camel brand, and then lost control of it when the Zhejiang Tea Branch privatized and broke apart? (I'm not so sure on the details.)
Makes me think of Camel cigarette logo, the camel is facing Left in the other direction, whereas the tea logo camels are facing to the Right. Also, the camel on Camel cigarette logo looks younger and smaller. Turns out the first Camel cigarette campaign adds were done by R.J. Reynolds Co. in 1913 to popularize their new pre-rolled cigarettes using exotic Turkish tobacco.

Curious, @mbanu where will you take these various histories in tea advertisements, branding, and cultural idiosyncrasies ?
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