Moroccan Mint Tea: A Sweet Lesson about Hospitality in Morocco
Welcome to our blog! Here at Mint Tea Tours, we’re excited to share our passion for all things Moroccan, whether it be travel, culture, language or food, and the list goes on! Interested in how we chose our name? Learn more about Mint Tea Tours.
It’s only fitting that our first blog post is about Moroccan Mint Tea. You may be familiar with the pre-packaged sachets sold under various brand names at your local grocery store which claim to be Moroccan Mint Tea. We don’t mean to be disrespectful, but while those sachets may offer a quick preparation and a glimpse of Morocco, their taste does not come close to the syrupy sweet yet refreshing taste of freshly brewed mint tea as made in Morocco. Truth be told, authentic Moroccan mint tea is actually almost as quick and easy to make at home as those sachets. The only thing easier (maybe) is traveling to Morocco, where you will be offered countless glasses of this comforting beverage!
Mint tea is typically served in Moroccan homes at breakfast and of course, at late afternoon tea-time, which is an institution unto itself. It also commonly accompanies meals of grilled meat – thought to aid in digestion of such a heavy meal. It will always be offered to guests, typically along-side other tasty treats, such as mini sweet or savory fekkas: Morocco’s answer to biscotti and crackers, respectively. These are aptly named “dwaz atay”, loosely translated into “tea accompaniments”.
As a traveler in Morocco, you will undoubtedly be greeted upon arrival at your riad or hotel with a pot full of mint tea. It’s a great way to relax and unwind after a long day of travel. Places of business in Morocco will also offer mint tea, especially when bargaining in the medina for a unique, high-quality hand-made Moroccan rug!
Though women are the queens of Moroccan kitchens, a male host typically presides over a traditional Moroccan tea ceremony. On an ornate silver tray, or sniya, he will gather a silver container filled with fresh Moroccan mint – a variety of the spearmint family – another silver container filled with chunks of Moroccan sugar cone, and of course, another filled with loose green tea. The tea will be carefully prepared in front of guests and then skillfully poured from a considerate height in order to create a top layer of bubbly foam in each tea glass. For guests, Moroccan hospitality dictates that their glasses be refilled when the amount dips low, and if they protest, the host will encourage them to drink more.
Try your hand at brewing Moroccan mint tea at home with our recipe. The following recipe makes about 6 (Moroccan) medium-sized glasses of tea. Let’s get started!
Moroccan tea glasses
HOW TO MAKE MOROCCAN MINT TEA:
- Heat the water in your tea kettle until boiling.
- While the water is heating, put 1 tablespoon of tea in your tea pot. Once the water is hot, pour about 1/2 cup in the tea pot. Let it sit for a few minutes, until the pellets have opened. Then, pour this water out. This is called “washing” the tea. Some claim that this step actually is the essence of the tea, and will keep this first washing aside to add back to the pot. They will then “re-wash” the tea and throw away the liquid from the 2nd washing.
- Add the 3 cups of remaining hot water to the teapot. Add the sugar. Then place the teapot on the burner with the lid open. Bring the tea to a boil over medium-high heat. At the boil, remove the teapot, add the mint, and let sit for a minute.
- “Poured, not stirred”: Moroccan tradition dictates to not stir the melange in the teapot, as it’s thought to bruise the tea leaves. Rather, the tea is poured into a tea glass, which is then promptly returned to the pot and repeated a few times.
- Now comes the fun part! Start pouring the tea close to the glass, and slowly raise the teapot straight up. Don’t worry – it might splatter a bit, but keep on pouring! To try to create more bubbles, lower and raise the teapot again, all the while pouring the tea.
- Fill the tea glasses no more than 3/4 full, because the tea glasses will be hot to the touch. This margin allows you to comfortably hold the glass while drinking.
- Now, grab some snacks, and start drinking!
You may be wondering…”Where can I find this type of tea?”
Find loose gunpowder tea in Asian or Middle Eastern grocery stores, or in the ethnic aisle of your normal grocery store. The Internet is also a great resource. Other green teas can be used, but gunpowder is what is used in Morocco and will provide the most balanced flavor i.e., not too grassy or herbal. The term “gunpowder” refers to how the leaves have been processed, namely steamed and then rolled into small pellets which will blossom in hot water.
Moroccans do drink their mint tea sweet! Four tablespoons such as in this recipe will be typically Moroccan. We prefer ours a bit less sweet. Experiment with the amount of sugar that works best for you. Moroccans generally use sugar from sugar cones, or qalb dyal sukkar. These are heavy cones of pressed sugar, which are then broken into chunks.