Morocco is a country full of beauty and hospitality and the sweet, mint-flavored green tea known as Moroccan Mint is one of the most endearing parts of the culture. It is one of the most important rituals of everyday life, served several times a day to friends and family and even shopkeepers greet prospective customers with this unique beverage. Tea is believed to have been introduced to Morocco in the 18th century when a Sultan received gifts of tea and sugar as part of compensation to release prisoners and it spread rapidly throughout the country. Morocco is considered the first importer of Chinese green tea and still is one of the biggest tea importers worldwide.
The preparation and serving of mint tea in Morocco is considered an art form and is almost always made in front of the guests by the eldest man of the household so that the tea set and service can be admired. Essential to both is the proper pot, glasses and the special 3-legged tray called “sinya,” on which it is usually served. All but the poorest families have elaborate tea sets. Teapots come in several sizes and are made of metal – tin, brass, aluminum, silver alloys or even engraved sterling or gold plating depending on social rank. The pots have long, curved spouts with strainer holes that allow the tea to be poured into tiny glasses from a height of half a meter with elegant motions that create froth in the cup. The range of decorative tea glasses from mass produced to hand-painted are very small. The glasses are filled in two stages to acquire the optimum taste. After being poured in a stream into the glasses, the tea is then poured back into the pot once or twice so that the tea and sugar are properly mixed.
Moroccan Mint tea is made by blending gunpowder tea with fresh spearmint and many cubes or cones of sugar. Gunpowder tea is a Chinese green tea which is rolled into small pellets, which look like old fashioned gunpowder, to preserve the flavor. The Chinese also call it pearl tea. Additional lightly flavored herbs such as lemongrass and orange blossoms may also be added with the mint. The ample amount of sugar - 5 teaspoons sugar per 1 teaspoon tea leaves - creates an infusion which is not only delightfully sweet but also refreshing and may be served hot or cold. The sugar may be combined with the tea during the infusion or after brewing with the spearmint. If visiting Morocco, be prepared to have tea at any time and make sure you accept every offer which symbolizes friendship, welcome and hospitality, as it is rude to decline one of the most treasured parts of their culture.
TEA TIME TRIVIA
Moroccan Mint tea
is sometimes referred to as their “Whiskey”
because they drink the extra sweet tea in tiny glasses
that resemble decorative shot glasses.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”