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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 September, 2004, 11:31 GMT 12:31 UK
Explosive al-Qaeda brew hits Guinea
By Alhassan Sillah
BBC correspondent in Conakry

A new tea craze is sweeping through Guinea. It is not the brew itself that is new, but its name: Al-Qaeda.

Al-Qaeda tea drinkers in Guinea's capital Conakry
People gather most evenings to chat over a cup of al-Qaeda tea
The local non-alcoholic beverage has people pouring into the night-time drinking holes of the country's capital, Conakry, for what clientele call the tea's explosive and restorative properties.

Aziz Mouna Camara, a proprietor of one drinking establishment, says the fermented concoction gets its name from its volatile nature.

"When the beverage has boiled to a certain level, it sparkles and gives explosive-like rumbling sounds when you open the pot.

"This is why some call it B52, American bombardment, Bin Laden and others call it al-Qaeda," he says.

Saddam tea

Previously, the tea was known as "tresor de la mer" or sea treasure, but its new name has many more people drinking it, Mr Camara says.

Aziz Mouna Camara, who brews al-Qaeda tea in Guinea
You should have no fears over the name al-Qaeda
Tea brewer Aziz Mouna Camara
It is a trend similar to neighbouring Mali and Senegal, where people call a popular form of sweet tea Saddam.

Mr Camara says that unlike China where the tea originates, he ferments his brew for eight days.

A local herb quinqueliba, some syrup, 20 packets of tea bags, sugar and honey are added to the concoction.

"After eight days we can drink it. It gives a tonic-like flavour and this is good for man's organism," Mr Camara says.

'Positive result'

The establishment's master al-Qaeda tea drinker calls himself "Saddam Hussein", after the former Iraqi leader, and says he downs up to five litres a day.

When I take al-Qaeda tea there is positive result in so far as my respiratory system is concerned
Al-Qaeda tea drinker
"My name is Djbril Fofana alias Saddam Hussein. We always assemble here and share good times. I drink two litres here, and take three more home as reserve," he told me.

Theories about al-Qaeda's medicinal properties have also lured people in for a cup of tea.

"I used to have frequent constipation. But since I started taking this beverage, my bowels are now free, I pass urine freely also, and everything's alright with my body," one al-Qaeda drinker said.

"When I take al-Qaeda tea there is positive result in so far as my respiratory system is concerned.

"I feel very much at ease. Before I had some respiratory problems," another said.

But whether it is its name or its alleged healing properties, the popularity of Guinea's al-Qaeda tea looks set to rise and rise.




SEE ALSO:
Sipping Saddam's tea in Mali
16 Apr 04  |  Africa
Country profile: Guinea
12 Jun 04  |  Country profiles



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