A visit to Morocco is not complete unless you’ve enjoyed a glass—make that several glasses—of the country’s iconic mint tea. Fortunately, the opportunities to enjoy this refreshing drink are numerous.
Mint tea is part of Morocco’s lifeblood; and, in fact, is popular throughout North Africa. If you are fortunate enough to be invited into someone’s home while you’re there, you can look forward to being offered this drink of hospitality. If it’s offered to you, be sure to accept—not only does it possess a pleasantly sweet taste, but it is impolite to refuse it.
Traditionally, the tea is prepared by the male head of the family; however, it is culturally acceptable for women to serve it as well. Typically, your host will come out of the kitchen carrying a tray adorned with a long-spouted, silver teapot and several small glasses. Observe carefully as your host pours the tea from at least a foot above the small drinking glass to create a thin layer of foam on the surface.
The most commonly consumed version of this drink is a green tea prepared with mint leaves and several lumps of sugar. Regional variations also exist; for instance, tea in the north typically tastes sweeter, while some areas of the country add pine nuts to it.
Regardless of whether you get a chance to enjoy Moroccan tea in someone’s home, you can seek it out at tea houses and restaurants. Tea houses in large cities have a reputation for serving high quality tea, providing a relaxing setting and offering a selection of local pastries. Many restaurants make an ideal place for tea sipping and people watching, since they commonly arrange their tables and chairs to face out toward the bustling streets. At a restaurant, you might receive your tea in a small teapot with small drinking glasses, or they might simply give you one larger, pre-poured glass mug of tea—sometimes with the mint leaves right in the glass. Since this national drink is enjoyed throughout the day, with meals and between meals, tea is available to order any time of the day.
Merchants often offer tea—sometimes fondly referring to it as Berber whiskey—to browsing shoppers in the souks. If you plan to peruse the merchandise for awhile, feel free to accept the offer. Accepting tea does not obligate you to buy anything. Who knows, it may even help you feel more at ease if you do decide to make a purchase and engage in a heated negotiation over its price.
Written by Shelley A. Gable, instructional designer and freelance writer.
Photo by Cocoabiscuit.