Not a day in Morocco is complete without brewing and sipping the much-loved and very famous Moroccan mint tea. Mint tea has been a long tradition that is not alive and well-practised in Morocco only but is also quite popular in neighbouring north African countries such as Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. It is because of this unique mint tea tradition that Morocco is one of the biggest importers of tea in the world.
With respect to the history of Moroccan mint tea, there are several stories that describe the origin of this special Moroccan beverage. According to one story, tea was presented to the leader of the country by Queen Anne of England when he released English prisoners. After this, it became popular in the court and amongst the locals. While another famous story narrates that back in 1850s, during the Crimean war, Gunpowder green tea was brought to Morocco by a British merchant. Due to the war, he was not able to deliver tea to Scandinavia, rather had to sell his stock near Mediterranean region, including Morocco. After that, tea was used in a number of beverages – of which Moroccan mint tea was the most famous one.
Moroccan mint tea is served a number of time throughout the day, especially after a meal. The ingredients of the team might vary depending on the region and season, but tea, sugar, water, and spearmint leaves are the core ingredients of the beverage. During winters, additional herbs and spices such as chiba (wormwood) leaves and louiza (lemon verbena) are also added to give it a unique flavour. The best tea is served on coal as the slow similar allows the slow release of the flavours which bond together for a refreshing glass of tea. In Moroccan we usually do this during a BBQ and put the pot of tea on just as we are serving the food, so the tea is ready to serve following the meal.
Moroccan mint tea is traditionally served in a steel Moroccan teapot, small glasses, and an engraved serving tray, called siniya. The tea is considered drinkable only when it has a good amount of foam on the top of the glasses which we call rizza. In order to form more foam, the tea is poured into the glasses from a height of at least 12 to 15 inches, however the higher the better. We like to challenge each other when we do this! This mixes the ingredients well and allows the mint aroma to spread throughout the glass.
A gathering in Morocco is not complete until the guests are served with a refreshing glass of Moroccan mint tea, along with freshly baked sweets, snacks such as dried fruits and nuts.
Moroccan Mint Tea
Preperation time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 5 mins
- 1 tablespoon of gunpowder (Chinese style) green tea or jasmine tea
- Handful fresh spearmint leaves
- 2 to 3 tablespoons of sugar to taste
- Hot water (to fill teapot)
- A large tea pot preferably metal that can be put on top of the hob.
- Add 1 tablespoon of loose tea to the teapot
- Add about 50mls of hot water and swirl to rinse the tea, pour out a glass and leave to the side. This glass is called the spirit!
- Add another 50mls swirl again and discard this water. Now the tea leaves have opened up.
- Add the sugar to taste, if you are not sure, add half and adjust accordingly once you have added all the ingredients.
- Add a large handful of washed mint and then cover with hot water.
- Place on the stove for at least 5 mins on a low heat. This allows the tea to brew and the sugar to caramelise.
Pour and enjoy!
- Adjust sugar to personal taste, Moroccan tea can be incredibility sweet.
- If you don’t want to add sugar, then you can substitute with alternatives such as coconut sugar or honey which I love.
- If you don’t have a Moroccan teapot, then either leave out the stove or use a saucepan and then pour the mixture into a normal teapot.
- If fresh mint isn’t available, you can use dried spearmint
- Loose gunpower or jasmine tea which can be found in most food shops.