All of you who were fortunate enough to visit the country of Morocco before, must be familiar with its busy streets, full of romance, colorful draperies and rich, spice-market aromas, its unique, flavorful, mouth-watering cuisine and of course its national drink.. Mint tea!
There is no way you could find yourselves walking in the markets of Marrakech without being offered a glass of hot mint tea with lots of sugar to quench your thirst after a long, hot day! This is one of the most delicious, refreshing and sweet drinks you could ever imagine! It’s a drink that means a lot to Moroccan culture and you can’t say no to it when offered some!
Of course not all of you have had the pleasure to visit this exotic and oh so charming Northern African country and taste the goodness of its traditional tea but don’t worry because I am here for you!
In this post I’m going to introduce you to this wonderful drink and get you familiar with everything surrounding its tradition. You will get to learn what Moroccan mint tea is exactly, how it is prepared and served.
So let’s get started.
What is Moroccan Mint Tea?
This is the most popular drink consumed in Morocco which is the first importer and consumer of green tea in the world. Moroccan Mint tea also known as simply “Moroccan tea”, is hot green tea prepared with fresh spearmint leaves and sugar. This beverage is a great example of cultural mixture in cuisine since green tea in Morocco is imported from China and the mint is locally grown and it’s one of the most widely used herbs in the country. Minty with a sweetness you cannot resist to, this tea has a very refreshing taste and aroma that can relax and rejuvenate you after a day of long walks under the hot sun in the city.
How is Moroccan Mint Tea prepared?
Four ingredients are mainly used for the preparation of this traditional drink. Boiling water, strong Chinese green tea called gunpowder (loose green tea leaves rolled into the shape of little pinhead pellets resembling gunpowder), lots of large mint leaves and lots of sugar. The tools needed for the tea’s preparation are not only of exceptional beauty but also of great importance for the right serving of it. The traditional teapot used is called Berrad and has the perfect shape to deliver the pouring of the tea from a distance.
The traditional method of preparing this tea is as follows:
- First and foremost, gunpowder green tea loose leaves (1 tablespoon) are added into the teapot. In a separate pot or kettle about plain water (about 5 or 6 cups) is boiled. After the water is brought to a boil one cup is poured into the the tea containing teapot and is left to infuse for about 30 seconds. The resulting liquid is then poured into a glass and kept aside. This initial cup of tea is very important and is referred to as “the soul” since it contains the essence of the tea flavor and will be used later to add extra flavor to the final infusion.
- Then, a second cup of boiling water is added to the Berrad and it’s swished around in circular motions. After a minute, the tea can be poured into another glass but this time it can be discarded since this is only a process of cleansing and lessening the bitter flavor of the tea.
- Next, the actual preparation of Moroccan mint tea starts. In this step, mint (a handful) and sugar (approximately 5 teaspoons) are added into the teapot and then hot water is poured. The pot is taken to heat and is let to boil for about 5 minutes. This additional boiling time helps to increase the flavor of the infusion.
- After the tea has came to a good boiling, the pot is removed from the heat and a glass in served but then it is poured back into the teapot. This step is repeated two or three times in order to mix everything well. This also helps with cooling the tea down a little bit before serving.
- Now the tea is ready for serving. Some people like it extra sweet or minty and they can add extra sugar and mint leaves into their glass.
You can also watch this video for a better understanding of how traditional mint tea is prepared in Morocco:
How is Moroccan Mint Tea served?
The preparation as well as the serving of the traditional mint tea in Morocco has often a ceremonial character. Even though cooking is only a female business in the Maghreb region the preparation and serving of tea is only taken care of by the head of the house. In other words, it is just a male affair. Mint tea is not merely a drink in Morocco. It is a sign of friendship and hospitality.
Brewing and serving mint tea for a guest is very important to the Moroccans and not accepting to drink it is highly impolite. When tea is ready to be served, the host will start pouring the tea at glass starting at rim level, then the Berrad will be raised quickly high above and then it will be lowered back down towards the glass. This creates a layer of white foam on the surface of the glass. Also this long pour technique helps swirl the loose tea leaves to the bottom of the glass and it slightly aerates the tea to improve its taste.
According to the Moroccan tradition, the mint tea is served three times, and each time that the tea is served and let steep in each glass results to a uniquely flavored tea. There is a famous proverb in the Maghrebi area describing this:
“The first glass is as gentle as life,
the second glass is as strong as love,
the third glass is as bitter as death.”
Tea in Morocco is served any time, whether it’s 10 or 100 degrees outside. It is served with meals but also throughout the whole day and at any social occasion. Bear in mind that Morocco is a mainly Muslim nation and alcohol is never consumed there. Tea is the drink to replace alcoholic beverages. Moroccans are very friendly, social and outgoing people so it is very common to get offered a glass of mint tea when you visit bars and restaurants, at any house and in the streets.
One of the things worth mentioning about tea in Morocco, is the teapots and glasses used to serve this sacred beverage. Luxurious trays and teapots and colorful small, handless glasses are used giving tea drinking an even more ritual character.
So what do you think? Don’t you want to try a glass of Moroccan mint tea and enjoy the icy, pungent aroma and taste of it? It is so yummy!