Arad, Bedouin Hospitality ... and Tea Thyme (Easy)

On Sunday of our whirlwind tour, we headed south from Jerusalem to visit Arad (pronounced AH-rahd).

Road divider on edge of town, desert in background.  

Bordering both the Negev and Judean Deserts, it is the first planned community in Israel.  It happened to be the 50th anniversary of Arad, so we helped celebrate by planting a few trees.   Not the purchase of tree certificates ... literally planting saplings.

Didn't even break a nail.

Those pipes are drip irrigation, saving us from having to return weekly to water the trees.

Squint to view.

We then traveled to Kfar Hanokdim, a Bedouin village deep in the Judean desert. 

Our chariots camels await.

View from my ride.

A contrast in feet.

After the 20 minute ride we dismounted and headed to the welcoming tent where a guide spoke about his Bedouin childhood and Bedouin nomadic traditions.

We sat on padded mats and rugs underneath a tent made of black goat hair panels, shielded from the sun by a roof of what looked like palm fronds and other dried materials. 

Our guide demonstrated the art of grinding coffee beans with a large and ornate mortar and pestle. Then we proceeded to a larger tent with more traditional tables and chairs for a huge lunch served family style.

This edible tray is about the size of a large pizza.  Surrounding the hummus are chicken wings, kebabs and grilled meats.  I should mention that "kebabs" in Israel are spiced meatballs, more oblong in shape.  Also on the table were bowls of cabbage and veggie salads, tahini, pita breads, pickles and a rice dish.  We washed it all down with with lemonade and water.  The table was so packed with food so I might have forgotten an item or three.

Tiny cups ... Turkish coffee is strong.

We ended the meal with assorted desserts, Bedouin tea and Turkish coffee.

The food was good and plenty, but what really knocked me out was the deceptively simple tea.  It was very sweet, flavored with herbs and such.  We were all trying to guess what the flavors were.  Most thought it included mint, which made my head explode because I hate mint yet I loved this tea which of course had to be impossible because I hate mint.

When I got home I fired up the intertubes to discover that most of the online recipes for Bedouin tea include sage and/or thyme (you were wondering about the post title), both of which have minty-like flavor, but not minty enough to make me nauseous.

Bedouin Tea.

I feel vindicated.

Below is a recipe I adapted slightly from The Austerity Kitchen.

Bedouin Tea
Lightly adapted from The Austerity Kitchen
Yield: about 4 servings

4 1/2 cups water
1 small sprig fresh thyme or 1 fresh sage leaf (or 4 tsp. dried thyme or sage)
1 tsp. ground cardamom (or 2 cardamon pods)
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon (or 1 cinnamon stick)
4  tea bags
2 Tbl. honey (or more to taste)

Boil the water in a 2 quart saucepan. 

Add thyme, cardamon, cinnamon and tea.  Turn off heat but leave saucepan on burner; cover and let steep for five minutes.

Strain tea.  Pour into tea cups; stir 2 teaspoons honey (or more to taste) into each cup.

Serve hot.


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