How to make shai
Shai is the traditional Nigerien tea that we've been served a few times by our host father and since the process really is a process, we thought everyone needs to know :)
- 2 small metal teapots (approximately 8oz & 10oz) = 2500cfa
- 3 metal cups (or cups able to hold hot water) = 750cfa
- 1 bag of loose leaf tea = 125cfa
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup of sugar = 50cfa
- Stove top or tiny wire charcoal pit
We'll label the bigger pot, POTA, the smaller pot, POTB, and the cups CUPA, CUPB, and CUPC.
First, place 1/2 (or whole) bag of tea into POTA, fill with water, and bring to a boil. This is best done outside, in the heat - which goes without saying in Niger - and in a tiny charcoal pit where there is only enough room for one pot atop the coals. you also need to fan the coals by hand.
Pour tea into CUPA and set aside for later. Fill POTA (with the leaves still in it) with water and boil again for second batch. While batch #2 is heating, put approx 1/8 cup of sugar in POTB. Once boiling, pour POTA tea into POTB and place on coals. Fill POTA (still has original leaves in it) once more and set aside, ready to heat.
Now for the tricky part - don't worry, you'll get to drink some soon - when POTB boils, you're going to start making foam by pouring the tea back and forth between POTB and CUPC. But first put POTA back on the coals to boil!
As you're pouring the tea back and forth, try to make the tea fall as far as possible into the pot or cup to form the foam. You'll have to do this probably at least 10-20 times. The more sugar you have, the better the foam; the better the foam, the better the presentation to your guests. And its all about the presentation :)
Once you have good foam, pour the tea equally between CUPB and CUPC and enjoy :) Ideally, you would have two or three small glasses (like shot glasses) so people could see the good foam, but we don't think most people have those here.
By now POTA is boiling again with batch #2. Add sugar to POTB then pour POTA tea into POTB and bring to a boil. Repeat the foaming process, but in the middle, incorporate the tea from CUPA to strengthen the flavor.
This whole process is meant to take quite awhile and each set of tea leaves should make 4 batches to drink, each one following the foaming and such. We have yet to try this ourselves, but we'll let you know how it goes!
Love to all :)