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All About Mint Tea

Mint tea, known as atay bi nahna, is the national drink of Morocco, and is an integral part of Moroccan hospitality.

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A steaming glass of the fragrant, sweet, light tea is offered as a sign of welcome.  It is drunk in the morning, offered throughout the day while bargaining, conducting business, and at the end of the meal to aid digestion.

A blend of Chinese gunpowder green tea and fresh mint, traditionally sweetened with at least four sugar lumps per glass, it is incredibly refreshing on a hot day.

Tea only arrived in Morocco in 1854 when, during the Crimean War, the blockade of the Baltic sea drove British merchants to seek new markets for their goods and they disposed of stocks of tea in Tangier and Mogador.

At feasts and on special occasions, mint tea making can be an elaborate ceremony: the best green tea is chosen and only fresh spearmint (mentha spicata) is used.  A fine silver-plated, bulbous-shaped teapot is selected for brewing and the heavily sweetened tea is poured rhythmically into fine glasses.  For additional ceremony, a fresh, fragrant orange blossom or jasmine flower may be floated in each glass.

Mint Tea recipe
Serves 2

300ml (1/2 pint) water
5 tsp sugar
1 tsp green tea
bunch of fresh mint leaves
or
300ml (1/2 pint) water
5 tsp sugar
1 tsp Maroque mint tea blend

1.  Bring the water to the boil.  Put the sugar and the green tea with fresh mint leaves (or the mint tea) in a small traditional Moroccan teapot, and add the boiling water.

2.  Leave to steep for 5 minutes, serve hot.

A variation on mint tea is saffron tea: less widely drunk but a very pleasant alternative.  This tea is a speciality of the southern Moroccan town of Taliouine, the saffron capital of Morocco.

Saffron tea recipe
Serves 5

2 tsp of Chinese green tea
1 tsp of saffron threads
900ml (1 1/2 pints) water
Sugar to taste

1.  Rinse the teapot with boiling water.  Add the tea and saffron to the emptied pot.

2.  Bring the water to the boil and immediately pour into the teapot.  Leave to stand for 5 minutes.

3.  Pour the tea through a strainer into warm glasses.  Add sugar to taste and decorate each glass with a lemon slice if liked and a mint sprig.

For a fascinating insight into the art of mint tea making I recommend reading Traditional Moroccan Cooking, Recipes from Fez by Madame Guinaudeau.  This book, originally published in 1958, is by all accounts the first on Moroccan cooking since the 12th century.  A very interesting read full of amazing details, it may be less useful as a cookbook unless you are cooking for 10 to 20 people (using a whole goat).

Enjoy the recipe?
Why not down load the cook books. Here 

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