Mint tea is extremely popular in the country of Morocco. So popular, in fact, that it is more than just a simple and delicious beverage enjoyed daily by the citizens of that country. It is a drink of long tradition, served everywhere – in homes, restaurants, bazaars, at parties and at religious gatherings, weddings and funerals.
There is no home in Morocco where a guest or visitor will not be offered mint tea. It is looked upon as a sign of friendship and courtesy, and served nearly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No conversation is complete without mint tea, nor is any meal. In fact, it is seen as a national icon that stands for hospitality.
Moroccans tease each other about mint tea, calling it “Moroccan whiskey”. There is quite a ceremony involved in the making of mint tea. It is usually served on a 3 legged tray, which holds a smaller tray. On this tray are three boxes that hold mint, sugar, and green tea. The tea is prepared in a teapot that has come to be known as Moroccan style, long and thin rather than round and with a long spout, and made to be very strong. It is served in small crystal glasses rather than the traditional cups.
Moroccans pour their tea differently from anyone else. The teapot is held high in the air by the head of the household, and poured into the small glasses that have fresh mint inside of them. The height serves to make the tea bubble a bit on top, which the Moroccans prefer. Sometimes the tea is sweetened before serving, but most often in Morocco, it is served with lumps or cones of sugar to nibble on as the tea is drunk.
Moroccan mint is made from gunpowder green tea. An odd name, to be sure! This tea carries such an interesting name because the green tea leaves are rolled by hand into little balls that are shaped like pellets. They are rolled so tightly that they would remind one of the gunpowder pellets that we are told were used in the 18th century. These leaves unfurl individually when the tea brews.
Why would anyone roll tea leaves into pellets? Because green tea is known to lose a great deal of its freshness and also its flavor as time passes. By rolling it it pellet shaped balls, it retains its freshness. This was done back in ancient times, and the tradition stuck. This variety of green tea is the most popular tea in the Middle East.
Green tea is well known for its many health benefits, such as lowering the risks of heart disease and certain kinds of cancer. Some people have claimed that green tea speeds up the metabolism and can help one to lose weight, and also that green tea can increase life expectancy and help to keep you from aging, but such claims have not been substantiated. The Food and Drug Administration has refused to allow any such claims.
Mint has been used almost since time began to relieve nervous tension , headaches, and to aid digestion. Irritable bowel syndrome has been relieved by mint, and it is said that fresh mint can also prevent cancer.
While hot mint tea is most popular in Morocco, Moroccan Mint tea is superb iced. More and more people are discovering the delicious and refreshing mix of green tea and mint. It is extremely refreshing on a hot summer day, sweetened to taste.
Rather than make the tea “from scratch” as the Moroccans do, with fresh mint leaves, green tea and sugar, you can save time and still have a delicious glass of iced tea when you take advantage of the Moroccan Mint loose tea packaged in tins or other sealed containers, and available at tea vendors who specialize in the choicest of teas on the internet.
To brew loose leaf Moroccan Mint tea in order to prepare iced tea, start with the best quality water you can get – NEVER tap water! It is very difficult to make good tea, be it hot or iced, with tap water. If your teapot has an infuser, remove it from the pot before warming the pot with hot water. While the kettle boils, you can decide just how strong you would like your tea to be.
Remember than the ice in iced tea dilutes the tea somewhat, so it is a good idea to make your Moroccan Mint tea a little stronger than you generally drink tea. Once the ice melts a bit, the strength should be just about perfect. Generally, tradition states to use loose leaf tea in the following quantity – “One teaspoon per cup and one for the pot.” This does make a strong tea, perfect for your iced tea needs.
Place the proper amount of tea in the infuser. When the water is ready, pour it into the teapot, and let the tea began to steep. Since green tea is known to be a bit more fragile and delicate than black tea, you do not have to steep it quite as long as you would a black tea. Three minutes is plenty.
Remove the infuser or strain your tea through a strainer. You may sweeten the tea to taste while hot to allow the sugar a better chance to dissolve, or you can enjoy Moroccan Mint tea with no sugar. Let the tea cool, then pour over ice and enjoy!