Everyday as the last of the lunch is being eaten, it is time to get out the small silver tea pot, make a quick run the boutique next door for a tiny box of China green tea, and put the attaya on to boil. Attaya, the Senegalese tea tradition, is an important part of every day. In the two months that I have been in Senegal, I have become fairly good at making attaya. Through lots of trial and error, many spilled cups of tea, and at least six different teachers around the community, I can finally make a respectable cup of tea!
To make attaya, the tea is boiled for at least fifteen minutes after which one cup is poured from the pot and while the tea continues to boil, the cup is poured back and forth among the cups to create foam, the thicker the better. After the foam is complete, mint and plenty of sugar are added.
The most important part of the attaya is who you share it with, and sharing a cup of attaya is a great way to make friends. At my health post apprenticeship, while preparing and drinking the attaya, I have met and talked with a wide variety of community members, from a group of young mothers to a pair of elderly ladies to the chief of the village.
The sharing of tea and conversation perfectly embodies the Senegalese idea of teranga (hospitality, sharing) and has quickly become my favorite part of the day.