Making Mint Tea the Moroccan Way

How many glasses of mint tea will you need before you become tea-drunk?

Making Mint Tea

After being in Morocco for a few weeks, even I become a little cranky if I haven’t been offered a glass of tea within milliseconds of arriving….anywhere!  There is something soothing, relaxing, calming about being offered the chance to sit and wait for your tea, then drink it leisurely while filling out paperwork or ordering dinner.

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I believe, the Moroccan tea-drinking culture may actually have been developed once people needed to navigate a medina (within the walls of the old town), since it can be a bit frustrating.  Between trying to find my destination and fending off unofficial guides, I have to admit that every time I arrived, I breathed a huge sigh of relief and looked forward to a cuppa.

Making Mint Tea

Mint tea is more than a drink, more than a tradition, more than a ceremony.  It is a conversation.  When someone offers you a glass of tea, it is an invitation to get to know each other, to settle in and enjoy your host’s company.  It is bad form to offer tea or accept tea without expecting to spend some time conversing.  Therefore, the making and serving of the tea is just as important as the consumption.

Making Mint Tea

Visiting a Berber family south of Marrakesh, I learned how to make mint tea the Moroccan way.

Ingredients: hot water, mint, tea, sugar…lots of sugar!

First you put in the tea.  With a normal pot, you put one handful and a little extra.  Cover it completely with boiling water, and shake, shake, shake.  At this point, you pour out all the water and completely discard.  This is cleaning the tea, and the dirty water is called “chilil” or “chilila”.

Making Mint Tea

Next, you put a big handful of mint, and a liberal amount of sugar in the pot, before filling the teapot with hot water.  This you let sit and seep for a few minutes, shake, and pour it into one glass, but immediately pour it back into the teapot.  You repeat this step three times, so that the sugar, mint, and tea can fully mix.

The next step is for you to determine if the mint tea has a good taste.  Pour a small amount into your own glass and sample.  Does it have enough mint? Enough sugar?  This is your opportunity to make sure the taste is perfect.  If you have to adjust it, put in the desired ingredients and repeat the pour in and pour out method three more times before serving the delectable tea to your guests.

The tasting step must not be skipped, because according to my teacher, Khailil,  “It is shameful if your guest has to add sugar to their tea after it is served”, since it will not be fully integrated with no gritty pieces floating in the mix.

Making Mint Tea

Serving the tea also takes a little practice.  A talented server can hold the teapot up to a couple of feet above the glass, so that you can see the golden brown color and enjoy the look of your tea as well.  By serving from a height, the splashing tea froths and foams.  A perfect glass of tea will have at least a half inch of froth on the top.  When poured, garnish with a few more mint leaves.

You will notice that at most tea houses or restaurants, the mint leaves are in the glass.  If you watch your neighbors, you’ll notice that they will take the mint out of the glass and put it on a plate.  As you can see below, Aicha’s food stall serves many glasses of tea each night, so they have put the tea and sugar in the glass and will only add the hot tea.  To my foreign taste buds, it was still delicious, but I’m not sure what Kahlil would think about this assembly line method.

Making Mint Tea

Now you are ready to try and make some Moroccan mint tea!

Making Mint Tea

Have you had mint tea from Morocco?  Will you try and make it yourself?

 

 

 

55 Comments

  1. I had no idea that there were so many varieties of tea in the world until I started travelling. I knew there was a lot – but the sheer amount is staggering. I think mint sounds like such a nice refreshing option. Hoping to make it to Morocco this year so I’ll add this to my must try list. Thanks for sharing

  2. I loved this tradition when I was in Morocco and wanted to buy one of the tea sets, until I became realistic about the fact that I never entertain guests and talked myself out of it :). The only thing I didn’t like was *how* sugary the tea was! But it sure smells amazing.

  3. I loved the tea in Morocco. I agree, it was a highlight in every meeting. I never learned to make it though I did know it was loaded with sugar. Always enough that I never had to add more. I am glad I didn’t accidentally shame anyone. We have tried to make the tea here, but never got it right. Now I have all the steps. Thanks.

  4. I really enjoyed reading this article, it transported me back to my time in Morocco. I absolutely love the tea drinking tradition, and the actual sweet mint tea itself is delicious. I agree that it could have been developed to de-stress after navigating a medina – we got lost in the souqs for two hours!

  5. Fantastic article! I’m British so I really don’t need any convincing to partake in a cuppa! I have to say though I wasn’t a huge fan of the taste of mint tea, although I drank tons of it because I loved partaking in the ceremony and the tradition!

  6. I loved this post! First of all, I love the Moroccan tea method and yes, I’ve had it in Los Angeles at The Little Door restaurant. What a fun experience. I wish I had read this article before I had it there so I wouldn’t have looked like such an idiot, but a friend I was with knew what she was doing. Great pictures!

  7. I love the ceremony of tea making, but I really don’t like the taste of Mint in tea. I know! Beautiful photos by the way. I love the close of the guy pouring water into the pot with the glasses all around. Superb!

  8. I absolutely love Moroccan mint tea – my favourite hot drink in fact! But…I do find it irritating here in England when restaurants just stick a couple of leaves into a cup of boiling water and then charge a small fortune is – that’s not a proper fresh mint tea!!

  9. I have never been a massive tea drinker myself… I know, ultimate sin for a Brit!! But infact when travelling I have tried many other varieties in the interest of tasting the local type and actually loved the thick Green tea we had in Japan and also the Apple tea in Turkey, and mint tea does sound nice and also refreshing too!

  10. I love the Moroccan mint tea! I remember after I came back from Morocco I was making it myself almost every day but it is quite a preparation compared to the tea bag you just need to put in hot water…so I stopped :(( But I still like it!

  11. I hands down LOVE Moroccan mint tea, and fell it love with it in Marrakech. It’s so refreshing and the pouring I think makes it taste extra sweet. I once had it in Amsterdam at a local place that served it with their speciality – homemade apple pie. I swear it was the best two both worlds for me. I get the Dilmah Moroccan mint tea bags to travel with but have the dried tea version at home. I need to make the real version after reading this. Happy Travels!

  12. Wow! I enjoyed reading it so much. I love all kinds of tea. This mint tea from Morocco sounds so easy to make, yet so interesting! Thanks so much for sharing the detailed method of preparation.

  13. It’s amazing how so many cultures across the world have tea ceremonies as ice breakers. And you had me at lots of sugar. Going to try making some mint tea for myself now!

  14. Corinne, you’ve got the social aspect of tea very well and explained it very beautifully. There must be lots of similarities in tea culture across the middle east.

    As you’ve mentioned, there’s friendship, intimacy, interest in acquaintance, etc all in one word, “Let’s have some tea together!”

  15. Moroccan Mint Tea… I’m not sure if anything could be more iconic for a country… Maybe the Singapore Sling??? Though, I’m sure they’re not quite bragging about that one in the same way. I think there’s even some of the major restaurants in N. America these days that specifically have a ‘Moroccan Mint Tea’ as part of their gourmet teas selection… though how they ever managed to pack in all that sugar, I’ll never know!!!

  16. Does having Moroccan Mint Tea in the Morocco pavilion at Disney’s EPCOT center count? I really enjoyed the tasted but had no idea about all the tradition behind it. The way that the server is frothing the tea by pouring it from high up reminds me of Malaysian Teh Tarik (pulled tea). I really enjoyed learning more about this custom from you.

  17. I am home now from my big 6 week trip and am freezing catching up on my blogging pals I’d love to drink this right now snuggled up by the fire. Send me some?

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