BY ZAINAB AMOO
What’s your favourite African drink?
Here in Africa, there are a lot of amazing natural drinks which need little or no preparation; from dairy to fruits, tea, you name it. What is more? In many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, tropical fruits are readily available. A dash of pineapples, oranges, paw-paw, lemons and Viola!! You have your refreshing drink ready to go down the only way it should.
But besides fruits, we have amazing spice and herb drinks you can make that are absolutely delicious and healthy as well. Let’s explore the options and drinks you can likely create right in the comfort of your home.
A tea estate in East Africa | Image: World Tea News
You’ll find tea grown in East Africa and also in some parts of West Africa. The leaves of different plants are used to make tea. In Sierra Leone, the people make tea from the leaves of a plant called the “tea bush,” which has large green leaves.
There are special rituals that are associated with the drinking of tea in some communities. The people of the southern Saharan area who are mainly Arab descent perform a complicated ritual when they make tea.
First, they wash tea in boiling water, which they throw away. Next, sugar is added and mint leaves before they add more boiling water. They leave the tea to stand and then, pour it into small glasses. They do not drink. They return it to the pot and pour it again. They do this several times before they finally drink the tea. The exact process is started all over again. Using the same tea but adding more sugar.
This ritual is repeated until everyone has had three cups of tea. The first is the strongest, the next weaker and the next sweeter. This ritual occurs two or three times a day and is very time-consuming. Phew! What a lot of stress to go through making tea.
Local Home-Made Alcoholic Drinks
Alcoholic drinks are made from different sources. A lot are made from the fermentation of corn, millet or maize and they vary in their alcoholic content.
Pito, for instance, is made in this way and is drunk in forested regions around Mumbai, in central Ghana and Nigeria.
We also have Palm wine made from the sap of a particular specie of palm tree.
This palm tree also provides palm nuts and palm oil. Palm wine is obtained by tapping the trunk of a palm. It is naturally alcoholic and has a white, slightly opaque and frothy appearance.
Although western-style alcoholic drinks are available, well-known brands can be difficult to get because, well sometimes some African countries cannot afford to import them. However, the good news is, a lot of the international brewers and soft drink manufacturer have set up factories in African countries to increase the sales of our products as well.
Interestingly, there are alternatives to the usual range of spirit that are being explored by African countries. In Kenya tropical fruit such as Paw Paw is fermented and the Ghanaians produce coconut liqueur.
There has been an unusual production of dairy for years especially in Kenya’s region of western Pokot. There, village communities have made yoghurt from cow or goat milk combined with ashes of the native’s tree known as Cromwo.
Raw milk ferments inside dried hollow gourds, and the ash is then added for an aromatic note. The ash gives the yoghurt its light grey colour. These days, the yoghurt is produced only by a few families for their own needs, while the surplus is not so often, and when it is, is sold at local markets.
There is also coconut milk. The Tanzanians do not prepare coconut milk but knock a hole at either end of a coconut and drink the contents.
There is still a lot to learn about African drinks. And, how about you explore drinks you can make with herbs, spices, dairy and fruits?