At the start of every month, Travel Wonders highlights a special drink from my travels around the world. Mint Tea is a cultural tradition in Morocco served both with meals and to welcome guests. Travelling through the Saharan country several years ago, I practically lived on mint tea drinking several glasses per day. It was strangely invigorating in the humid sticky weather and gave a comforting break from the hectic roaming, sales pressure and harassment in the overcrowded souks. When discussing a sale of a larger item such as a carpet or artwork, mint tea is often served before the rounds of vigourous bartering commence. A refusal is considered disrespectful, tea being so culturally significant in Moroccan hospitality.
To make Moroccan mint tea, start by adding boiling water to a strong green tea (gunpowder tea is preferred). Swirl around the pot and after a minute or so, pour out all the water to wash the tea. Add a handful of spearmint leaves and a generous scoop of sugar (the Moroccans drink their tea extremely sweet) to the pot and fill the pot with boiling water. Leave to steep for several minutes. Pour into simple small glasses, often with a mint leaf or two in the bottom.
Tradition states that there should be enough in the pot for at least three glasses of this sweet tasty liquid. In any case, the hosts continue to fill your glass of the syrupy refreshing tea with exaggerated extravagent technique, lifting the pot high above the glass but with no spillage. The Moroccans claim that over the three glasses, the flavour changes over time as the tea steeps in the pot. One favourite local saying to describe change is:
The first glass is as bitter as life,
the second glass is as strong as love,
the third glass is as gentle as death.