Moroccan Mint Tea
Mint tea is central to social life in Morocco. Tea is traditionally made by the head of the household and served to guests as a sign of hospitality. Usually, at least three cups of tea are served and tea is consumed throughout the day as a social activity. Original Mint Tea has a clear, pungent, and light aroma. Other hybrids and cultivars of mint are sometimes used as a substitute. In Morocco, mint tea is sometimes scented with herbs, flowers, or orange blossom water. In the cold season, they add many warming herbs like European mint and Artemisia.
The British introduced gunpowder tea to North Africa in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries through Morocco and Algeria. James Richardson recorded a description of a Moroccan tea party in the 1840s, and said that during his travels tea was drunk widely and throughout the day. During the Crimean War in the 1850s, the British East India Company diverted tea destined for the Baltics to Morocco, which led to an increased abundance of tea. By the early 20th century, mint tea had become well established in Morocco.
Its spread across Morocco began in the middle of the nineteenth century when it became involved in trade with Europe. Thus, it seems that the introduction of tea to Morocco was during the era of Sultan Mawla Ismail, when Abu al-Nasr Ismail received bags of sugar and tea as part of the gifts presented by the European envoys to the sultan in preparation for the release of European prisoners, which indicates its scarcity in the Maghreb countries. Morocco is the second consumer in the world and the first in the Maghreb region in terms of tea consumption. Moroccans consume 4.34 kg of tea per capita annually. Green tea is the most consumed tea in Morocco, and you will see a plentitude of different green tea kinds in souqs and shops.
The basic ingredients of the mint tea are green tea, fresh mint leaves, sugar and boiled water. Ingredients proportions and preparation time can vary widely. Boiling water is used in Morocco, rather than the cold water used in East Asia, to avoid bitterness. The leaves are left in the pot while the tea is consumed, changing the flavour from cup to cup. The way to prepare the mint tea is a bit long and complicated. A cup of green tea is added to a generous amount of fresh mint (or any other flavouring) and sugar, approximately 5 teaspoons for every one tablespoon of tea. The tea is washed with a small amount of boiling water and added to the teapot, known locally as the “barad”, in addition to sugar and boiling water. The people of Morocco excelled in preparing and tasting it, and made festive rituals for it, not limited to occasions and holidays only, but rather became part of daily life, as it is attended throughout the day, and at all times, whether early in the morning or even late at night, despite it is considered a strong stimulant.
In the method of preparing tea in the Moroccan way, it is the beauty of the tools used to prepare and serve it. The tray and the teapot are made of pure silver metal, or a metal similar to it, and the common feature between them is the tray, decorated with hand engravings, and the same applies to the teapot which takes a unique and lofty shape. The city of Fez is the main source of tea tools, where artisans have preserved this traditional industry that bears an Andalusian imprint, indicating extravagance and luxury. The tray and the teapot are accompanied by other three boxes of the same metal, intended for tea, sugar and mint.
It is also important to follow the way of serving. Thus we bring you here a recipe of how to make a Moroccan mint tea:
The ingredients for making the famous tea are rather basic:
Dried green tea (gunpowder)
Some fresh mint leaves, Large pieces of sugar, Boiling water
The secret lies in the amount of each ingredient, and in the infusion time. Let’s explain how to do it perfectly:
1/ We start by putting the green tea (gunpowder) in a teapot, then we add a little boiling water by infusing about one minute. The contents are poured into a small tea glass and left to rest on the tray.
2/ Refill the teapot with boiling water, then throw the tea, so that the bitter taste of gunpowder disappears.
3/ Reintroduce the small glass of tea into the teapot. Then place the teapot filled with water on the stove for 5 minutes, or pour directly boiling water into the teapot to fill it.
4/ Add mint leaves and large pieces of sugar.
5/ Then everything is in the gesture: pour the tea in a first glass while holding the teapot in height, to add air and make it “foam”. Put the little glass in the teapot and repeat the operation as many times as necessary for the sugar and mint are well mixed (two or three times are sufficient).
6/ Once the tea is well mixed, serve all the guests.