A little sweet, sweet cup of attaya

This blog post will be dedicated to the very important aspect of Senegalese culture: Attaya.  In short, attaya is green tea and tons of sugar which is drunk in multiple rounds after meals.

Attaya cooking on hot coals

Attaya, like meals in Senegal, are shared with anyone and everyone who happens to be around.  It has a lot of cultural significance, for cementing family bonds and sharing how one’s day is going.  The process is a long one, taking sometimes several hours, but the result is well worth the wait!  The oldest, most respected member of the group is served the first cup and on down the years.

To make attaya, you start by boiling, and boiling, and boiling green tea – the longer it’s on the fire the better, I think.  Then a massive pile of sugar is added – I’ve seen measurements from 7 teaspoons of sugar to one teacup-full.  Either way, it’s a sweet cup of tea!


A glass-full of tea is then poured from glass to glass in order to achieve the desired level of foam.  The foam on top of attaya is very important.  If you can achieve an inch or more of foam, you’re good to go!  The tea is poured back into the pot and boiled some more.  At this point flavorings can be added, fresh basil, mint or ginger are some popular, and delicious, options.

My language teacher, Boubacar, making us an afternoon cup
My CBT host mom making the after-lunch round

Now the tea is ready to serve.  The tea-maker pours the finished product into the foamy glasses and doles them out.  Another important aspect of attaya is to slurp loudly while drinking!  It is actually a surprisingly difficult skill to achieve, but helps to show appreciation of the attaya.

So much foam
Alison LOVES attaya!

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