african tea, oh how i missed you


When the airplane doors opened at Kigali airport, I was instantly hit with the sounds and smells of East Africa. No, that is not meant as a joke or a slight – the air of East Africa has a certain texture to it: slightly humid but still fresh with a constant far off smell of brush fires. Anyone who has been there will tell you. It had been a year since I was last in Africa [Uganda] but it felt like I had never left, and the two experiences seemed to instantly join and create a continuing African narrative of my travels in the Eastern part of the continent.

After a complicated first night arriving in Rwanda after fifteen hours of flying [story forthcoming], I was finally able to lay my head down and sleep. In the morning, I got myself together and went to breakfast. There I met an old friend, one who I didn’t even know I had missed so much. Having spent hours in coffee and tea shops last year in Kampala, I got very used to the local offerings, and in particular, East African tea.

African milk tea, or ginger tea, tastes like chai but is even more distinct. It is made by boiling a ginger root along with smooth and rich milk. The combination is one you will never forget.

As I sat in Kigali, looking at the countryside, drinking a cup of African tea, I imagined myself a nineteenth century explorer, stopping by and marveling at the richness of East African culture. The twenty-first century me wondered why I had been away for so long.