The Maragoli Language For Tea

The Maragoli Language For Tea

Among the Luhya the Maragoli – the tea growing tribe – are known to not only to love the brew so dearly so, but as expected, are naturally connoisseurs of Western Kenya tea. A typical Mulogoli tribesman knows his tea, and knows it well. Thus there’s a corner of Maragoli language dedicated to all things tea.

Ichai Itambi

Literally, “tall or long tea”. Ichai itambi is not good tea. It’s mixed tea that is too thin on the milk.


This word comes from sturungi (Kiswahili) or ‘Strong Tea’. It refers to black tea (often with no sugar). In the many ways how the Maragoli enjoy tea, iturunji commonly washes down maize roasted on the cob or when eating sweet potatoes or cassava. Iturunji according to Maragoli customs is not given to visitors.

Inylon tea

The opposite of iturunji. It is technically not tea as it is milk lightened with water then served hot. Inylon gets its name from nylon the synthetic material, as someone thought it reminded them of that.

Ichai Inyifu

Clearly one that’s based on preference, ‘ichai inyifu’ is mixed tea that’s well bodied with milk.

Ichai Mkafu

Mkafu is mixed tea that is without sugar (and often with barely enough milk) that is especially loathed when served at moments when an accompaniment is expected such as a working man’s breakfast.

Ichai Inzilu

Inzilu means cold in Maragoli lnaguage. Ichai inzilu therefore is cold tea. By cold, I mean even room temperature tea, as tea is always served pipping hot in Maragoliland.

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