Thursday, July 5, 2007

Moroccan Mint Tea


When considering nations enthralled by tea, you might think of Britain, Japan, China – even India and Sri Lanka - before your mind's eye falls on Morocco. But, since the British brought tea to Morocco in the 1800s, the drink has become as interwoven into the fabric of life there as it is anywhere. Anytime a guest enters a café or someone’s home, mint tea is served as a vital symbol of hospitality and cultural cohesion.

And by Moroccan Mint Tea, of course, I mean the decadently sweetened Gunpowder tea that's infused with great bunches of fresh mint and poured from silver teapots held at dizzying heights above narrow glasses.

A Moroccan tea service is a stunningly beautiful thing to behold, as is the traditional tea set used for the ceremony. Typically a set includes an ornate tray (usually silver), the pot itself, a bowl with domed lid for holding the fresh mint (spearmint’s preferred – add fresh orange blossoms if they grow where you live), and a cup or goblet for foaming.

Creating a frothy head of foam on the tea is considered the most important part of serving. The feat is accomplished by first pouring the tea from a great height into the glass. But this is only the start. The glass is then lifted and the tea is poured again into the aforementioned cup or goblet. Back and forth the tea goes between these two vessels until the host is satisfied with the resulting froth.

Moroccan tea is served scalding hot, and 3 glasses are traditionally drunk at any sitting – not what you’d expect for a country that lies on the northern Sahara Desert. But trust me: it’s refreshing and wonderfully balancing on a hot summer day.

Serves 4 (3 glasses each)

7 cups boiling water
2 tbsp Gunpowder green tea
½ cup granulated sugar
2 handfuls fresh spearmint, plus extra for garnish
½ cup fresh orange blossoms, plus extra for garnish, (optional)

Rinse your teapot with about a cup of boiling water to heat through. Use a towel or potholder if your teapot has a metal handle – it gets hot!

Put the tea, sugar, mint, and orange blossoms, if using, into the warmed pot. Pour over the boiling water to cover and steep for 3 minutes. I like to wrap the pot in a tea towel during this stage to keep in the heat.

Banish small children and pets from the area. Lift the teapot 6 inches above the first glass and slowly pour a stream into the glass. As you gain agility and courage, you will be able to lift the pot higher. Now hold the (very hot) glass over the goblet (or any other cup) and stream in the tea. Repeat at least once more until there’s a light foam on the surface of the tea. Cappuccino lovers and those of you with leather skin continue as long as you like though. Repeat with the other glasses, garnish each with a spring of fresh mint or an orange blossom, and serve hot.

20 comments:

Wendy said...

Adore such teas as this. The Turkish apple tea is perhaps my favourite. Made all the more special by the gorgeous, ornate glasses.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

This is a wonderful post! I love Moroccan tea! It is really refreshing! Someday I plan to get a tea set for myself! They are truely gorgeous!

Cynthia said...

(deep breath) ahhhhh - let the aroma fill my senses and renew me. Thanks, I needed this :)

Figs Olives Wine said...

Wendy, I've never had the Turkish apple - I must seek it out. I do love the paraphernalia of the thing though! The silver, the glasses. It's a feast for all of the senses.

Hi Jenn, I really do enjoy my Moroccan tea set! And the teapot makes a good flower vase in the off season too ;)
I got a pretty good deal from a lovely place here in NYC. Let me know if you ever want the info!

Hello Cynthia! You're so right - it does truly feel like that! Lovely in the heat or in the middle of any busy day, frankly!

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous photos Amanda! I'll be trying the foaming technique (carefully!)

marisa said...

Great post! I am crazy about tea, and I love Moroccan mint tea.

Lucy said...

Recent rain has left us with an abundance of mint.

And I just bought a fresh batch of gunpowder tea too.

Now all I need is that hot weather...

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Oh I would love the info!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Hi anonymous - Yes, the foaming technique is incredibly satisfying though you do rather take your life (or at least your skin) in your hands at first! Enjoy but look out!

Hi Marisa! And welcome. I love tea too (it's the Brit in me), and in the summer, I often sub this Moroccan tea in for my morning cuppa. Enjoy!

Hi Lucy! How wonderful to have a big, freshly sprung patch of mint. You make me want to have a garden so badly! But please don't let the winter weather stop you from trying this lovely tea. The mint's clearly asking to be tried now!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Jenn, I've had such a great experience with this shop over a number a years. The guy's name is Mohammad and the store is Imports from Marrakesh, Ltd. It's located in Chelsea Market, which is an indoor market here often featured on the food network by the way. The phone # is (212) 675-9700.

If Mohammad is in town (he's often back in Morocco finding more fabulous things to import), you should ask to speak to him directly if possible. Let him know I recommended the store to you (He knows me as Amanda from Self Magazine who became a chef), and please give him my best!

He does have a website for larger items like furniture and rugs. The site is:
www.importsfrommarrakesh.com

He's helped me so much over the years, and I'm always so glad to send nice folk his way! Let me know how it goes.

Sandi @ the WhistleStop Cafe said...

I love the tradition of serving turkish tea... almost as much as I love a glass of iced mint tea~ southern style.

Sarah said...

I loved the tea so much when I was in Morocco! You're blog is really great--thank you so much for the great reading!

Anali said...

Wonderful post! I just made some tea earlier this evening, although it's iced. I wish I had some fresh mint...

Figs Olives Wine said...

Hi Sandi! Southern iced tea? There's nothing like it!

Hi Sarah! Welcome, and thanks for the kind words. I'm so glad you like the site! Isn't it strange how something so hot and sweet can cool you down in the heat?

Hi Anali, and welcome! You know mint's actually the easiest to grow (along with maybe chives). It doesn't even really need good light. But making yourself some tea, adorned or not, is so satisfying, don't you think?

Maryam in Marrakesh said...

How very lovely to see your Moroccan mint tea post! You would not believe how much of this I imbibe!

Will you have any Moroccan recipes in your cookbook?

Figs Olives Wine said...

Hi Maryam and welcome!
As of right now, Morocco is absolutely featured in the book - recipes and more...

Love your site!

hollychase@verizon.net said...

Part of the tea-pouring trick lies in the craftsmanship of the pots themselves: Moroccan white metal teapots have finely chiseled spouts that DO NOT DRIP. Get one and you will be empowered as a pourer-- and you will never want to pour tea from any other vessel!

Holly
http://hollychase.igc.org

Figs Olives Wine said...

Hi Holly, how fascinating! I am getting out my pot as we speak to examine the spout. Thanks for the tip!

Anonymous said...

I had never had such amazing tea as I did last night at the Marrakesh restaurant in Washington, D.C. I came back to look into it more and found this recipe which I LOVE. Thanks so much, and I highly recommend Marrakesh if going through D.C.

Figs Olives Wine said...

Anonymous, how wonderful! It's great to know of a good place for this tea in DC - it might just be the perfect reviver for travelers after all! I'm so pleased you found the site and like the recipe - hope you enjoy!

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