Moorish tea is much more than a drink: it is a tradition. As with mate in Argentina, Uruguay and other Latin American countries, tea is a sign of respect, welcome and brotherhood.
If you travel to any of the Maghreb countries, you can be sure that they will invite you to have tea. Its people are huge tea drinkers. Morocco, specifically, is the fifth country in the world in consumption per capita. However, not a single gram of tea is produced on these lands.
How did the custom of drinking tea get here and how did it become so rooted in its culture? What does Moorish tea taste like? How is it prepared? He continues reading and discovers everything you need to know about this typical Maghreb drink.
History of Moorish tea
The green tea that is drunk in the Maghreb, called Moorish tea in Spain and shāy bi l-na`anā in Arabic, is considered a relatively modern drink despite the fact that its origins are still under discussion today.
Legend has it that when English troops attacked the ports of Mogador and Tangier during the 17th century Crimean War, the region’s tea supplies became scarce. Merchants began looking for a way to continue selling tea to the English and the solution was to mix green tea with mint. Unwittingly, they thus created Moorish tea.
Other information indicates that Moorish tea would have been born in the 19th century, as the tea was introduced by the English in the Maghreb area, where the Moroccans would have mixed it with their traditional mint infusions.
The Moorish tea ritual
If you have traveled to Morocco, you will have noticed that, for the locals, any time is a good time to drink green tea.
The preparation of tea in Morocco is a men’s thing. They are the ones who are in charge of preparing the tea and serving the guests. In fact, the head of the family is the one who performs the ritual as a sign of respect and welcome.
A curiosity that will surely be interesting to you is that two teapots are used to make Moorish tea in a traditional way: one that the guests will not see and another that is presented to the guests.
The former is usually of inferior quality and is used only during preparation. The second is more colorful and of great quality. This is the one used to serve guests.
Another striking fact of the ritual is that foam is an important part of Moorish tea since it is considered a symbol of good fortune. To achieve it, the tea must be served from above, that is, the head of the family serves stretching the hug and generating distance from the teapot to the cup.
Preparation of Moorish tea
To make Moorish tea, the following ingredients are needed:
- 1 teaspoon of green tea, gunpowder style, per person + 1 extra teaspoon for the teapot.
- Water, necessary amount.
- 1 bunch of fresh mint.
- White sugar in block (or in cubes), to taste. In Morocco, tea is drunk very sweet, but you can vary the amount according to your preference.
Step by Step:
- Boil water to clean the kettle. This allows you to remove the metallic taste. You just have to pour the boiling water inside, swirl it around the inside and discard it.
- Pour the tea into the clean pot (remember it’s about one teaspoon per person and an extra teaspoon per pot).
- Add boiling water, wait 30 seconds and throw the water away. This process is done to remove the bitterness from the tea. Never leave the boiling water on the tea for a long time to avoid burning it.
- Add water at 85 degrees and incorporate in this step the mint.
- Let stand three minutes.
- Add the sugar.
- Pour the tea into the glasses and pour it back into the pot. In this way, you avoid stirring the tea to dilute the sugar, but instead carry out the process in a “more natural” way. Also, at this point you can take the opportunity to try the Moorish tea and see if you need to rectify any ingredient.
- Once ready, the tea is poured into the ornate pot and brought to the table.
- The tea is poured from a height so that it foams in the glass.
Moorish tea is still a green tea with mint, so it has the well-known health properties of this tea.
On a nutritional level, it provides all the nutrients of green tea, including vitamins C and B6, as well as iron, potassium, sodium, and zinc.
On the other hand, the catechins in green tea have a strong antioxidant effect, that is, they help the body to fight against free radicals, thus preventing the appearance of cardiovascular and degenerative diseases, and even cancer and premature aging.
Various studies have shown that green tea lowers bad cholesterol levels in the blood as well as lowers blood sugar levels.
Do you dare to try Moorish tea? It is a drink with an intense and sweet flavor that is liked by all palates, in addition to providing important health benefits. Do not miss the opportunity to taste it!