Tea Culture in Saudi Arabia

by Nikita Mittal on Jan 20, 2023

Tea Culture in Saudi Arabia

Tea Culture in Saudi Arabia


Among all the beverages in the world, tea is consumed the most. Everyday 3 billion cups of tea are drunk globally. Even in Saudi Arabia, tea is a popular drink that people prefer. The country imports 31,594 tons of tea annually, which shows its popularity. While there is a perception that the Saudis are coffee drinkers, it is a fact that they have a very strong tea culture.


History of Tea


The history of tea traces its origins to China. It happened accidentally when the leaves of the tea plant fell into boiling water one day in 2737 BC. The taste of the brew became popular and soon tea was born. From China, tea spread to other places in the world. Tea came to the Arab world and Saudi Arabia through the famed Silk Route.


Green tea came from China, and it was followed by Black tea that came thanks to the British and French colonizers. Soon tea became a popular drink in the entire Gulf region. The Arabs started to infuse tea with spices, herbs, fruits, and other ingredients to enhance its flavour.


Tea Culture


Saudi Arabia has a very strong tea culture. Tea is consumed not just in the morning but after every meal. Tea is drunk after breakfast, lunch, and dinner. People enjoy drinking many cups of tea that make them feel refreshed. There are various types of tea that people enjoy here. Apart from enjoying the tea, they love to offer tea to others.


In Saudi Arabia, serving tea to others is considered a measure of hospitality. Tea is served to guests at homes, offices, and other places. It is a part of etiquette to serve tea to guests. Even in businesses, serving tea is a way to welcome guests and show them warmth.


Tea and Food pairing in Saudi Arabia


The food pairing of tea is an interesting subject to discuss. Tea is consumed with a variety of snacks and foods. But a fact you need to know is tea does not taste the same with all foods. If you want to experience the authentic taste of a particular tea, it needs to be paired with specific types of foods.


If you are serving white tea, then it goes well with a salad of cucumber or with cheese. Green tea is popular, and it goes very well with chicken, fish, rice, and leafy vegetables. Oolong tea is quite popular, and it is best paired with seafood. Salty and sweet seafood goes with this tea.


Yellow tea, on the other hand, goes well with raw seafood. Black tea is best suited with all kinds of desserts. It can also be paired with red meat and even chocolates.


Interesting facts


These interesting facts about tea culture in Saudi Arabia may surprise you:


  • The term used in Saudi for tea and coffee is ‘shay wa qahweh’.
  • It is a known fact that serving tea is considered good hospitality. As a guest, you are expected to drink the tea served to you. If you refuse tea, then it is considered rude. The host may feel you are rejecting their hospitality.
  • One of the reasons for the popularity of tea is that water is boiled before making the tea. The boiling kills harmful pathogens ensuring it is safe to drink.
  • Tea in Saudi Arabia is different from the tea served in many other places in the world. It is usually strong and dark in appearance. Unlike other places, it is served in long glasses and not cups.


Tea scene in hotels


Tea is a popular drink consumed in hotels in the country. If you are staying at hotels in Saudi Arabia, you can enjoy tea after breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A new trend that is emerging is afternoon tea. Restaurants in hotels of Saudi Arabia serve afternoon tea for guests. It is a popular pastime where locals and tourists relish tea with snacks in the afternoon.


They drink a variety of teas with savouries, sweets, and scones. There are also local specialities like falafel, kibbeh, hummus, and stuffed vine leaves. If you want to enjoy a great tea experience while in Saudi, here are some of the best places in Riyadh you can consider visiting:


  1. Chorisia Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton.
  2. Acoustic Restaurant & Gallery, Al Olaya.
  3. Oplaisir, Al Mohammadiyah.
  4. The Mansion, Al Olaya.
  5. Lobby Lounge at the Four Seasons.
  6. The Globe, Al Faisaliah Hotel.