Mint tea in Morocco, an art of hospitality

It is on every Moroccan family’s table, served with elegance in palaces and simplicity in popular cafés, many shopkeepers will spontaneously offer it to you… the glass of mint tea is a must for your stay in Morocco, symbolizing the country’s art de vivre and the hospitality of its people.

The nectar of Moroccan hospitality

A Tuareg proverb puts the equation clearly: “To make good tea, you need time, coals, and friends.”

Time is an integral part of Moroccan conviviality, and accepting a cup of tea instantly puts you in tune with the country’s warm, peaceful rhythm.

Traditionally, it is supposed to be prepared and served to guests by the master of the house and three successive teas are offered from the infusion of the same leaves.

On festive days, the ritual may be accompanied by the “tass”, the traditionnal hand-washer, by a perfume bottle filled with rose or orange blossoms water with which to sprinkle guests’ hands, and by an incense burner.

One recipe or a thousand?

The best magic formulas are often the simplest: green tea, mint and sugar are the undeniable trinity of a mint tea worthy of the name.

The tea most commonly used in Morocco is Chinese “Gunpowder” tea, of which the country is the world’s leading importer.

And yet, there is no precise recipe, each family and region brings its own little touch by adding of other fresh herbs: pennyroyal (fliou), absinthe (chiba), verbena (louisa ), marjoram (merd’douche), orange blossoms (azahar) in spring…

Or for the more fortunate, a few pistils of saffron in the glass, or a pinch of amber, wrapped in wool and attached to the opening of the teapot to diffuse its scent.

From China to Morocco, the history of mint tea

We could summarize the story in a curious sentence: “Moroccans drink mint tea since the Crimean War around 1855″.

Indeed, while tea had reached the tables of a few nobles thanks to gifts from ambassadors, it wasn’t until the 19th century that English began to mass-market Chinese tea and assorted utensils to Morocco.

The war rages in Crimea and blocks English outlets to the Balkans. The latter turn towards the ports of Tangier and Mogador (the former Essaouira), and it is then that the green leaf from the Far East will come to mingle with the traditional local infusions of peppermint .

Utensils at the heart of Fez crafts

Also introduced for the most part by the English, the utensils essential to tea service have remained unchanged for a century and a half: chiseled teapots, decorated glasses, silver, copper or nickel silver trays, sugar and tea tins, hand-washers, kettles, little sugar hammers, etc.

The famous “Moroccan” teapot is therefore in reality a model of English teapot created in the 19th century in Manchester by the silversmith Richard Wright.

Today, however, it is the coppersmiths of Fez who craft all these ritual objects after having appropriated their delicate decorations with immutable shapes, with such dexterity that it is difficult to imagine that they were not born in Morocco.

Little French-Darija lexicon around tea

Tea: Atay
Mint: Na3na3
Sugar: Sukar
Sugarloaf: Kaleb sukar
Moroccan pastries: Halwa 3arabiya
Teapot: Berrad
Tea tray: Siniya
Glass(s): Kas / kisan
Hand-washer: Tass
Perfume bottle: Mrecha

Tea please: Ouahed atay, 3afak
Glass of tea: Kas d’atay
Tea in a teapot: Atay berrad
Sugar-free: Bla sukar
With sugar: Bsukar
Just a little sugar: Chouiya sukar

Recommendations from Faraj Palace

Refreshing, invigorating and comforting, mint tea can be drunk on its own, but that’s without taking into account Moroccan generosity and gourmandise. A plate of pastries or fresh dates will often accompany it.

At Palais Faraj, it will be served to you with an assortment of traditional cookies (gazelle horns, almond crunchies, etc.). Don’t hesitate to order it at reception to enjoy it in the Grand Patio or by the pool.

Mint tea can also be the drink that will accompany your meal in our Restaurant L’Amandier.

Bsaha” (“Cheers”)

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