In a couple of weeks, I’ll be heading off to Morocco again to lead another of my culinary tours. One of the highlights of the time spend travelling around the Kingdom of Morocco is the drinking of tea infused with different kinds of mint and other aromatic herbs – a gesture of hospitality and a way to engage with the people we meet along the way.
Mint is the most common herb infused in Moroccan tea but it is often accompanied with seasonal additions, fresh Seville orange blossoms in the spring and Wormwood in the winter. The desert people like to add marjoram whereas I have tasted tea brewed with thyme and sage in the Atlas Mountains. Marrakech is known for its “atay m’khalet” or mixed herb tea containing a selection of herbs including two kinds of mint, lemon scented verbena, rose geranium, sage, wormwood and marjoram and very delicious it is! The Moroccans use loaf sugar which I have described in a previous post entitled “Moroccan Sugar Cones”.
Aromatic herbs for Infusion in tea
Common Mint Mentha viridis na’ana
Spearmint Mentha spicata ”
Peppermint Mentha piperata menta
Pennyroyal Mentha pulegium fliou
Lemon Verbena Lippia citriodora louisa
Marjoram Origanum marjorana merddedouch
Rose Genranium Pelargonium roseum laatarcha
Sage Salvia officinalis salmiya
Wormwood Artemisia absinthium shiba
The tea is prepared very carefully and a tea service is used which comprises a tray, teapot, containers for tea, mint and sugar and decorative glasses.
MOROCCAN MINT TEA
1 heaped teaspoon Gunpowder Green tea (loose leaves)
1 bunch mint, well washed
Bring the kettle to the boil.
Scald the teapot and put the tea leaves into the pot.
Pour in 1/2 glass of boiling water, swirl the pot and immediately pour it out into the glass. This is the “soul” of the tea.
Pour in another glass of boiling water, swirl it around and then pour it out into another glass. This will be dark and cloudy and should be discarded.
Put a handful of mint into the pot, add the “soul” of the tea and fill the pot with more boiling water.
Add sugar to taste and allow to draw for about 2 minutes (over a low flame for the best result).
Pour the some of the brewed tea into a glass and then pour it back into the pot.
Repeat this process to make sure the sugar is fully dissolved and then pour out a small glass of tea and taste it. Add more sugar if required.
Pour the tea into the glasses to only 2/3 full. If poured from on high, the tea will be more aerated and will be topped with a layer of fine bubbles known as r’za (turban in Moroccan Arabic).
This will allow the aroma to develop.
According to tradition, each guest should be offered multiple glasses of tea.