The cultural experience of having a Moroccan Mint Tea is more than just sitting down for some refreshment. Not only is it incredibly tasty, but Moroccan Mint Tea is also great for health. Read about how to make this delicious tea the Moroccan way!
Moroccans provide this cooling tea, also known as Mahgrebi Tea or sometimes as Moorish tea or Atay, as a compulsory welcoming offer to anyone who enters their home, office, shop… anywhere, really!
When we visited Morocco, we found Moroccans to be most hospitable, so we were (thankfully) offered tea numerous times during our relatively short stay in the country.
There are several stories passed around about the origins of Moroccan mint tea. Starting with the Berbers in the 12th century, they continue on with claims that it was the British in the 18th century who first introduced Morocco to tea. No one really knows for sure – but all of the stories are exotic and the resulting custom benefits everyone, regardless of its source.
The main ingredient of Moroccan mint tea is a specialty green tea, (Camellia Sinensis) known as gunpowder tea. Gunpowder tea (which can be made from either black or green tea) originated in China, probably during the Tang Dynasty, from 618-907 CE. It is mostly cultivated in the Zhejiang province.
Gunpowder tea has large tea leaves and buds that are rolled into tiny balls resembling gunpowder pellets, from which the name (probably) stems. Rolling of the tea preserves its freshness longer than other teas, and preserves its full-bodied flavor. Although it used to be made by hand, these days only very high-end gunpowder tea is hand-rolled. Modern machinery now takes on the bulk of that laborious production process.
As with all green tea, gunpowder green tea contains caffeine, which gives a nice energy punch. The other two main healthy components of gunpowder tea are catechins and theanine.
These phytonutrients (plant nutrients) are high in anti-oxidants and provide several health benefits, including the following:
- immune system support
- stimulate metabolism for fat burning and easier weight loss
- improve heart health
- increase energy
- increase good cholesterol
- resolve digestive issues
- are anti-inflammatory, so help to reduce acne and improve skin appearance and tone
- reduce blood sugar
The type of mint used in traditional Moroccan mint tea is a variety of spearmint, also referred to as Nana, or simply, Moroccan mint. It grows in the mountainous regions of Morocco and has a sweet flavor, a bit fuller than other spearmint varieties. Moroccan mint provides additional health benefits such as:
- Aiding digestion
- Soothing respiratory ailments
- Acting as a general anti-inflammatory agent
Although spearmint is the most common mint used, you can also follow the same directions using peppermint. Another variety of Moroccan mint tea, known as Berber tea, is a popular option that includes other fresh herbs along with spearmint. They have excellent health benefits, too, for example:
- Lemon Verbena – soothing and good for digestion
- Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) – antibacterial, cures fever, good for stomach
- Wild thyme – antimicrobial, soothing, anti-anxiety, eases hypertension
- Geranium – strengthens immune system, relieves tension, excellent for skin
- Sage – another member of the mint family, good for digestion, antiseptic, good for brain
Let’s Make Some Moroccan Mint Tea
Moroccan mint tea is easy to make! It’s basically just gunpowder green tea ✓ (I like to buy it in bulk to save money and also packaging), fresh spearmint leaves and lots of sugar! Traditionally, Moroccan’s follow a more elaborate procedure as per below, so you can try it out if you want to be more authentic. ?
Moroccans use small specialty glasses to serve their tea, however, small juice glasses will suffice. The tea glass is served about two-thirds full. Using a traditional Moroccan tea pot with a long spout, the hot tea is poured from several inches above the cup to create foamy bubbles on the top. You can add in a few sprigs of fresh mint if you choose.
Hold the glass by the top rim and sip, as the glass becomes very hot, but the top does not.
These are just guidelines, but if you prefer to drink this tea out of a ceramic cup or mug, that’s ok too…this tea is so delicious (and good for you!) no matter how you drink it!
Feel free to drink Moroccan Mint Tea in any of its variations as often as you like during the day!
Note: If you are pregnant or taking blood thinning prescription drugs, please consult your doctor before drinking lots of green tea, as green tea is a natural blood thinner.
Thank you for reading! If this post has piqued your interest and you find it useful, inspiring or otherwise magical, please pin it and follow us on Pinterest and/or share it on Facebook via the icons to the left… And we’re always happy to hear from you via the Contact page.
Image Attribution: Featured image compliments of Freepik“>Freepik.com
Moroccan Mint Tea
- 8 cups water
- 1-2 TBSP Gunpowder green tea
- 1 handful fresh spearmint leaves can substitute with peppermint
- sugar or other sweetener to taste
- First, you’ll boil water, enough to fill a small tea pot (yielding 6 small glasses of tea)
- In another pot (or your teapot, if it is stove-top safe) add a few tablespoons of water, about enough for 1 cup of tea and bring to a boil. Place about 1 full tablespoon of green gunpowder tea in the water and remove from heat.
- Let this steep for a few minutes and, without stirring, pour that tea liquid into a cup (it will be slightly less than the full cup of water as the tea leaves absorb some of the water.) Reserve this tea, referred to as the “essence” of the tea, which is quite strong, as it will be returned to the pot later.
- Adding another cup of boiled water to the pot, swirl that water around in the tea leaves “washing them”, strain out and discard that cup of tea water… it is said to enhance the flavor of the tea, removing some bitterness.
- Fill the pot with the rest of the previously boiled water (to about 2/3 full) and return to the heat. Add back in the reserve first cup of strong tea that you had set aside.
- When the water begins to boil, add a large handful of washed fresh spearmint leaves to the pot (just stuff them in and use a spoon to carefully submerge them in the tea water) along with however much sugar you like… Moroccans love their tea with lots of sugar, so add as much as you prefer!
- Allow the pot to come to boil again, just to the point where bubbles break the surface. Remove the tea from the stovetop, cover and let steep for about 5 minutes and it is ready to serve.
- Moroccans mix the tea by pouring some into a cup and returning it back to the pot a few times, but unless you are making a special event out of your tea time, you can feel free to skip this step.
- The tea is usually served in small specialty glasses, however, small juice glasses will suffice. The tea glass is only filled to about 2/3, and using a traditional Moroccan tea pot with a long spout, it is poured from several inches above the cup to create foamy bubbles on the top. You can add in a few sprigs of fresh mint if you choose.
- Hold the glass by the top rim and sip, as the glass becomes very hot!