Before I left home, I would tell people the small amount of information I knew about Rwanda– one thing I always shared was that Rwandans love milk, especially in tea. Then I would make a joke about how I am thankful I am not lactose intolerant.
On average, I drink five cups of milk tea a day.
It is always served at our house, boiling hot, out of a thermos.
It is offered to guests. I’ve had it at every single home I have visited.
Everyone makes it a little differently. Some add ginger, some serve it plain, but everyone drinks it with spoon after spoon of sugar.
It was the first thing I learned how to do when I arrived in Gicumbi. How many spoons of sugar do you take? Isukari uranywa tungahe?
It is served at breakfast, during lunch, after lunch, before dinner, during dinner, after dinner. Mama Haleluya will pour it for me even after I tell her I do not want any. And then she will pour me another cup after that.
It is delicious, sweet, and warm. It fills you up, wakes you up, lifts you up. It calms you down and puts you to sleep. It welcomes you and makes you comfortable.
It makes sense now, why the people of Rwanda love drinking and offering milk tea. They are welcoming and make you feel comfortable, even when you don’t know how to communicate in Kinyarwanda or you feel homesick or you just ate liver for the third time that day and really can’t stand it.