Among communities from the areas where the plant is native, khat chewing has a history as a social custom dating back thousands of years analogous to the use of coca leaves in South America and betel nut in Asia.It is a controlled substance in some countries, such as Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States, while its production, sale, and consumption are legal in other nations, including Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Somalia and Yemen.Its fresh leaves and tops are chewed or, less frequently, dried and consumed as tea, to achieve a state of euphoria and stimulation; it also has anorectic (appetite-reducing) side effects.The leaves or the soft part of the stem can be chewed with either chewing gum or fried peanuts to make it easier to chew.Some studies done in 2001 estimated that the income from cultivating khat was about 2.5 million Yemeni rials per hectare, while fruits brought only 0.57 million rials per hectare.Between 19, the area on which khat was cultivated was estimated to have grown from 8,000 to 103,000 hectares.
Khat has been grown for use as a stimulant for centuries in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.
Ground water is often pumped from deep wells by diesel engines to irrigate the crops, or brought in by water trucks.
The plants are watered heavily starting around a month before they are harvested to make the leaves and stems soft and moist.
Khat goes by various traditional names, such as kat, qat, qaad, ghat, chat, Abyssinian Tea, Somali Tea, Miraa, Arabian Tea, and Kafta in its endemic regions of the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.
Khat is a slow-growing shrub or tree that typically attains a height of 1–5 m (3 ft 3 in–16 ft 5 in).