Teterías

Tea rooms or teterías. © Michelle Chaplow
Tea rooms or teterías.

Teterias (Moorish Tea Rooms)

Granada, home of the Alhambra, is also heir to the Moorish tradition of the 'tetería' or tea room. Don't be lulled into a sense of sedate scones and afternoon tea however. The 'tetería' scene in Granada is a highly exotic experience, following the Arabic tradition of sipping exquisite aromatic herbal teas in an ambience mid way between bohemian and opulent. The décor, like the tea, has romantic and oriental flavours and is normally intimate, in cool, dimly lit rooms with low tables and chairs and scatter cushions in fabrics of rich Arabic colours. Find a list tea-rooms in Granada here.

Once you have found Calle Calderería Nueva, you can browse around and see these exotic tea rooms, where you can sink into velvet couches, or sit on low seats or colourful cushions, while you sample all kinds of unlikely teas, infusions, milkshakes and Arabic coffee or perhaps even quietly puff on a hookah. The omnipotent Moroccan tea, made with mint leaves (hierbabuena) and sweetened with plenty of honey or sugar, is both delicious and thirst-quenching. Fruit teas have some unusual flavours and fragrances, especially when rose petals are added to the infusion to heighten the pleasure for the taste buds. Coffee is likely to be as strong as the teas are delicate, so be prepared. The tetería Alfagüera, in Calderería Nueva has a good selection of teas, shakes.

The area around these Arabic tea-rooms is interesting and you will also see Moroccan cake shops and the typical Moroccan bazaar selling interesting souvenirs, including traditional tea sets and tea pots, like the ones used to serve the tea in the teterías. Other teterías in the area are Kasbah and Al Sirat. The Kasbah has a cool basement area and elaborate, candlelit decoration. It has small areas sectioned off for to cater for intimate groups and stats open until the small hours of the morning. The Al Sirat is one of the oldest in the area and has good milk shakes made with yoghurt.

If you suddenly remember that you need to check your e-mails, unlikely though it may seem, this may be the moment. The ubiquitous Internet Café has infiltrated the world of the ancient tetería. The "Cibertetería" is a cool place to stay in touch with home, without stepping out of this relaxed, stress free zone.

In the tetería Dar Ziryab, although with a less elaborate décor, you can usually catch live music on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Another venue is Peryane, in a precarious looking building on three floors, where there is sometimes a belly dancing show. A little further down, in Calle Calderería Vieja, is Al-Andalus, where as well as tea and cakes.

The Granada Moorish tradition of the tetería has caught on and is becoming more popular all across Andalucia, with new places opening up in other main cities, including Malaga.

The Tetería Barracas in Calle Horno (near the Plaza de la Constitución) was one of the first in Malaga and has been open for almost 10 years. Two more have opened in heart of the historic centre, in the little pedestrian street, Calle San Agustin, very near the Picasso Museum. If you explore around the area off the main pedestrian shopping area in Calle Larios, you will see that there are more teterías being opened in many old restored buildings, as the people of Malaga are becoming more aware of their rich multicultural past.

You will also come across some excellent teterías in Seville, Cordoba and Cadiz- specifically in Jerez. The tea-room craze has even made its way as far as Madrid. Once you have sampled the tea and the atmosphere of these singular establishments, the term tea-room will always conjure up an image of something very far removed from bone china and buttered scones!