Travel Betty

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Karkade Is Travel Betty’s Beverage Of Choice In Egypt

May 12th, 2007 · 2 Comments

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The national wine of Egypt is red and usually (like most Egyptian liquids) syrupy sweet. It is also non-alcoholic. In a devout Muslim country, what did you expect?

I first encountered Karkade as the welcome drink on our Lake Nasser cruise aboard the M.S. Eugenie. It’s actually a tea, not a wine, but our Abu Simbel rep, Achmed, had introduced it as such with a wink. Not one for subtlety, I was still confused by my lack of a buzz until I consulted a guidebook.

Karkade is made by steeping the leaves of the hibiscus flower in hot water, diluting it and then shoveling in as many spoonfuls of sugar as will dissolve (although I prefer mine with hardly any sugar at all). The flavor is like a tame cranberry juice. Aromatic and a little tart, but with much less pucker power. It is served hot or cold depending on your preference. And most restaurants know what you’re talking about if you simply ask for ‘hibiscus drink’ instead of trying to pronounce its Arabic descriptor (“KAR-kah-day”).

Once introduced, this refreshing beverage was pretty much all I drank besides water for the remainder of our trip, it really reminded me of the Orangina Sparkling water I drink at home. In fact, our guide, Emad, laughed at me every time I was asked what I wanted to drink because he knew the answer was going to be Karkade. As a parting gift, he even thoughtfully presented me with two bags full of dried leaves so I could take them home with me to the States.

A note to my bacteria-conscious readers: the tea is boiled so don’t be afraid to try it just because it doesn’t come in a hermetically sealed water bottle. To miss out on tasting Karkade is to miss out on something very sweetly Egyptian.

Tags: Egypt · Food and Drink

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  • 2 responses so far ↓

    • 1 Jac // May 21, 2008 at 6:03 pm

      Imagine my glee and disappointment at misreading the title of this post as “Karaoke Is Travel Betty’s Beverage Of Choice In Egypt.”

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    • 2 Travel Betty // May 21, 2008 at 7:15 pm

      Sorry for the let-down, Jac! Surprisingly, I rarely consume karaoke in any form :)

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