moroccan mint teaMoroccan mint tea

Spend just 24 hours in any town, village or city in Morocco and I can almost guarantee you’ll  be served hot tea. It’s the ritual by which guests are entertained, meals are completed, occasions are marked and the day is passed.  In fact, it’s not an overstatement to say that mint tea is part of the collective consciousness of Morocco.  While meals are traditionally prepared by the women of the house, the tea preparation is typically the work of the gentlemen of the house and it’s prepared and served with much fanfare.

Originally introduced to Morocco in the eighteenth century,  Sultan Moulay Ismael was one of tea’s first enthusiast.  He had received it as a gift from British and Dutch delegations and his early support was critical. Very soon after its introduction, tea service became a highly ritualized affair for the urban bourgeoisie.  A special “moul atai” or tea man was employed to ceremoniously brew and serve the tea, pouring it into tiny tea glasses from a great height to aerate the liquid and produce a thin layer of foam on the top of each glass.

By the nineteenth century, tea culture was no longer reserved for the elite and had begun to permeate all levels of society.  Today, a glass of hot mint tea still starts and ends the day and is always offered to guests in the home. It is typically served in order of precedence according to age and social rank and it’s considered exceptionally rude to refuse a glass.  Nicknamed “Moroccan Whiskey”, it is the unofficial drink of the entire nation.   Moroccans now consume an average of 1.4 kilograms of powdered tea per person per annum (outdone only by Britain and Turkey) and Morocco stands as the largest importer of Chinese green tea in the world.

The Perfect Pot of Moroccan Mint Tea

1 teaspoon of powdered green tea

1 large bunch of fresh mint sprigs

Sugar cubes (to taste)

Teapot

Tea glasses

Pour approximately ¼ to ½ cup of freshly boiled water into teapot; swirl gently and discard the water. Place powdered tea into teapot and add freshly boiled water into the pot.  Add mint and sugar. Let tea steep for 1-2 minutes, then pour the tea from the teapot and into a single glass. Transfer liquid from the tea glass back into the teapot, repeating this process several times until ingredients are fully blended.  Proceed to fill 4 tea glasses halfway full of tea…fill any higher and it’ll be too hot to drink! 

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