The nomads in Niger say that tea is the “friend of conversation.” I watched how the rhythms of the day are marked by the tea service. Tea finishes off every meal and signals the time for the afternoon nap. The last cup marks the end of the day.
They say that wan-iyen – the first round – is bitter, like life. The sharp taste of the Chinese green tea not yet diluted by pots of water. Wan-ashin, the second round, is sweet, like love; sugar is added and the tea has lost some of its strength. Wan-karad, the third round, is light, like the “breath of death.” This one is little more than sugary water.
None of the activities required to live in the desert, such as pounding millet or pulling water from a deep well or the preparation of tea looked easy and I could see one needed strength, patience and grace.