Saturday, June 7, 2014

[KNOWLEDGE] MOROCCAN MINT TEA


Mint Green Tea
Photo by zanthia / CC BY


Mint Leaves
Photo by Kham Tran / CC BY


Moroccan Tea Ware: Teapot, Tea Glass, and Serving Tray
Photo by wasapninworld / CC BY


Moroccan Teapot with Handle Cover
Photo by klearchos / CC BY


Ornate Tea Glass
Photo by winam / CC BY


Tea Ritual: Woman poured from a Distance to produce Foam on the Tea
Photo by Deeptrivia / CC BY








OTHER NAMES: Touareg tea, Tuareg tea, Mint tea, Maghrebi mint tea, Atay B’naa-naa or Naa-naa(in Arabic)

Moroccan style mint tea is not only common in Morocco, but also popular in many Arabian countries, France, Islamic Africa and Spain. The tea uses green tea with mint, which makes it really refreshing. Mint tea is consumed daily in Morocco and is also drunk for special occasions served with traditional engraved teapot and ornate tea glasses.

HISTORY

Peppermint is one of the oldest plants for medicinal use. [1] From records of Roman and Greek period, it was used as a digestive aid and as a treatment for the symptoms of cough, colds and fever. [2]

Tea was introduced to the Maghreb in the 18th century by the English. [3] While the Moroccans grew mint and use it in their dishes, the recipe of mint tea was quickly invented and became the national drink. [4] [5]  The beverage has spread throughout North Africa and integrated as a custom in many North African countries.
During colonization of Spain and France in Maghreb, the popular Moroccan mint tea also traveled to those countries. [6] From Spain, the recipe passed to Latino American countries as well. [7]

CULTURE

In Morocco and other Maghreb countries, mint tea has become part of the culture and is consumed at almost every meal. It is served whenever there are guests or gathering, which makes the tea symbolized as friendship and hospitality. Tea performance, rituals, and ceremonies play important role within their customs too. [8]

Traditional Moroccan tea ceremony is called “Atai” and is traditionally prepared by the host or the head of family. Please note that it is considered a great offense not to accept the tea from the host. [9]

MOROCCAN TEA WARE

Traditional Moroccan tea ware includes a teapot, tea glass, and serving tray. Because teapot is made out of metal, a “handle cover” is used to isolate heat when pouring tea. (See photo on the left)

Moroccan teapots are designed and crafted by artisans using materials such as tin, brass, aluminum or silver alloys. Some teapots are stainless steel and therefore safe for placing directly over the fire. [10] Teapots are traditionally decoratively engraved. Depending on social rank, teapots are plated with gold or bear gold motifs and decorations. [11]

Moroccan tea glass cups are decorated with delicate motif and patterns. Because of its beautiful design, many people also use it as a candle holder.  
INGREDIENTS

Moroccan mint tea is usually prepared with a generous amount of spearmint leaves.  [12] Peppermint can be used if prefer stronger cooling flavor. [13] The beverage uses other herbs such as absinthium or wild mint.

PREPARATION

The method of preparation of a traditional Moroccan tea ceremony (Atai) varies from region to region. Check out one of the methods here. Of course, it can be causally prepared with only a few ingredients: green tea, mint leaves and sugar. 

      1.      Prepare all ingredients: green tea (tea bag or loose tea leaves) – usually strong Chinese tea like gunpowder, chun mee, or zhu cha), fresh mint leaves in large quantity, and sugar (approximately five teaspoons of sugar for one teaspoon of tea leaves).
      
      2.      First, we need to “clean” the loose green tea with followed direction. (If using green tea bag, ignore this step and proceed to step 3) Add loose tea leaves in a teapot. Add a small quantity of boiling water for approximately 20–30 seconds. Poured out and kept aside. This is the "spirit" of the tea and will be added back after the tea is washed, in order to restore the "spirit" to the tea. The tea is then "cleaned" by adding a small quantity of boiling water. Poured out after one minute (this lessens the bitterness of the tea), this process may be repeated more than once.

      3.      Add Mint leaves and sugar. Add hot water that is below boiling water temperature. (between 170 - 185 degrees Fahrenheit, or 76 - 85C) Because green tea is very delicate, brewing it with boiling water will cook the leaves. [14

      4.      After three to five minutes, a glass is served and poured back in the pot two to three times, in order to mix the tea.

      5.      Tea is then tasted. Add more sugar if needed. Mix the tea.

      6.      Tea is poured into glasses from height in order to swirl loose tea leaves to the bottom of the glass, whilst gently aerating the tea to improve its flavor.





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