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Kinkeliba : the West African Super Tea

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In Senegal, Kinkeliba (Seh-Haw in Wolof) is the most popular of the bush teas. But despite amazing healing properties and higher antioxidant levels than Green tea, it’s not widely known outside West Africa.

The leaves of this shrub – when dried and boiled – produce a strong, earthy-tasting tea which is mineral-rich and caffeine-free.

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Dried Bissap (Hibiscus) and Kinkeliba at Tilene Market in Dakar
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Bag of dried Kinkeliba leaves

It’s drunk all year round but is especially popular during the colder months, and is used by Muslims to break the fast during Ramadan.

A non-exhaustive list of Kinkeliba’s health benefits would go something like this: aids liver disorders, sleep problems, digestion, skin complaints such as eczema and acne (due to anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties), general convalescence after illness, detoxification, and can be applied during the final rinse to strengthen dry and brittle hair. If that wasn’t enough, research suggests it may be beneficial in the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes.

No wonder Kinkeliba is said to have mystical properties and is referred to as “tisane de longue vie” or infusion of long life.

Here’s how to make it:

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Add 20g of dried Kinkeliba leaves to a pot with a litre of boiling water
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Boil for 20-30 minutes until the water turns orangey-red (to make a weaker tea steep a tablespoon of leaves in a cup of boiling water for 10 minutes)
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Add sugar or honey to sweeten, or mint, lemon or milk to your taste
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And voila, enjoy your refreshing West African antioxidant hit!

If you live in Senegal, you can find Kinkeliba leaves at most markets and supermarkets. In the United States, you can purchase Kinkeliba from a fantastic company called Saafara Teas, founded by Senegalese entrepreneur Ismael Diagne.

Diagne’s mission is to bring the healing herbal teas of West Africa to the world, while helping those who harvest the plants in Senegal. A percentage of each box of tea purchased goes towards improving facilities in the local community.

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4 Comments

    • Moira Moira

      Thanks Raquel!

  1. Ledina Ledina

    Thank you for this information! I have seen these bags in Dakar markets, but had no idea what they were.

    • Moira Moira

      You’re very welcome. I hope you enjoy the tea!

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