A short five-minute drive from the American University of Sharjah in Sharjah, UAE (that’s the United Arab Emirates, a small nation that borders Saudi Arabia) is the Royal Tea Cafeteria. Over the past seven years, the Royal Tea Cafeteria has built a following that would be the envy of any teahouse. University students flock to this spot to enjoy a hot cup of tea with their friends and find respite from the pressures of their studies.
Although students make up more than half of Royal Tea Cafeteria’s customers, even during “off days” in the summer when students are away on holiday, the teahouse sells over 2,000 cups of tea, on average. Assuming they are open 10 hours a day, that’s 200 cups an hour! Many teahouses would be happy with 200 cups a day.
Even more amazing are their sales once school is back in session – then Royal Tea Cafeteria’s numbers more than double to 5,000 cups of tea a day, on average. Besides the opportunity to escape campus life, Royal Tea Cafeteria offers its patrons the following popular choices:
- Karak, the most popular selection
- Malaki (Royal)
- Haleeb (milk) with saffron tea
None of these teas sound familiar? Here’s the breakdown:
- Karak, or Karak Chai, is strong milk tea that likely originated in India – basically, it’s lots of black tea, sugar, and milk.
- Malaki is a thick, custard-like tea that apparently tastes like a rich custard.
- Haleeb with saffron tea is basically hot milk (Haleeb is a popular brand of milk in the UAE) with saffron added, presumably for its medicinal properties.
- Horlicks is a malted milk drink from England that contains no tea.
Clearly, most of the more popular “teas” served at the Royal Tea Cafeteria are not teas at all, but rather tisanes or milk-based drinks.
One frequent visitor to the Royal Tea Cafeteria interviewed by gulfnews.com explained his reason for returning – there is something special about sipping hot tea with a few friends, adding that “tea complements conversations rather well.”
According to a worker who has been with the teahouse from the beginning, the number of customers has risen steadily since it opened. In fact, people come from all over the UAE to enjoy the teas at the Royal Tea Cafeteria. At anywhere between one and four dirhams (between 25 cents and $1.00), depending on the size of the cup, tea at this teahouse is a real bargain!