In Morocco, brewing and drinking tea is a very popular tradition, which means hospitality and friendship and is done with great care. Moroccan mint tea is served throughout the day and especially with meals, based on green tea with mint leaves and sugar. Although cooking is the domain of women, tea is often made by male heads of families and is considered an art that is passed down from generation to generation.
Tea making, a process called atai, is part of the tradition and is often done in front of guests. The ingredients may vary slightly in different regions and with changing seasons, but the principle of hospitality remains unchanged. Tea is served in small cups and is only considered drinkable if there is foam on it. Pouring tea from a teapot with a long, curved spout is carried out from a height of at least 30 cm, which leads to the formation of foam on the surface of the tea. If there is no froth, it means the tea is not ready to serve and will have to infuse a little longer so that the tea in the cup is poured back into the pot. In some areas, the pouring and pouring method of tea is used to mix the ingredients and is part of the ritual. Pouring tea into a cup from this height is a matter of practice and foreshadows a skilled host or housewife.
Tea ingredients typically include Chinese green tea, usually a variety called “gunpowder tea” from Zhejiang Province, China, mint leaves, and sugar. In some places, cedar nuts can be added to the mixture. During the winter months, mint can be replaced with bitter Chiba (wormwood) or Louisa (lemon verbena) leaves, which give it a distinctive lemon flavor. Interestingly, Morocco is considered to be one of the largest importers of Chinese green tea in the world.
To make a teapot, you need to add two teaspoons of green tea to about half a liter of boiling water and let it steep for fifteen minutes or so. This mixture is then sieved into a teapot and sugar is added according to taste, adding mint just before serving. Alternatively, the host can fill the mint leaves into a separate cup and pour the tea over them, releasing a distinctive Moroccan scent and aroma. Enjoy!