by Emeric Harney September 02, 2021 3 min read 4 Comments
Ah, Morocco! A kingdom in northern Africa, the name conjures up visions of mystery, adventure, color, romance. We immediately think of Casablanca, Morocco’s largest city, and the eponymously titled movie that is inextricably tied to that magical city. We think of Marrakech, an extremely popular tourist attraction due in large part to its vast “souks,” those open-air marketplaces comprised of hundreds of vendors hawking their wares, of crowded streets and mazes of alleyways. While souks may be a lure for tourists primarily due to the shopping, for the local Moroccans, souks are gathering places to meet, catch up, spend a little time gossiping...and drinking famous Moroccan mint tea.
What Is Moroccan Mint Tea?
It’s really quite simple. In addition to water, this national beverage is brewed with three basic ingredients: Gunpowder tea, spearmint leaves and sugar. Known as “atai,” this tea holds a special place in Moroccan daily life. It is served all day long and is especially known as a beverage that is served as a sign of hospitality. How you prepare Moroccan tea in the traditional way is considered an art form.
These days, when guests come to visit a modern Moroccan household, it’s likely the tea will be prepared in the kitchen and then served to guests. However, in more traditional households or for special occasions, the tea will be prepared in front of guests in a ceremony that requires one key action…
Pour That Tea From Up High!
While the types of teapots or glassware used can certainly vary from one Moroccan tea ceremony to another, one move is a must: the tea is poured from a height of around 12 inches above the glass. Besides being on the slightly dramatic/theatrical side, there’s another reason to pour the tea from that height -- it will create some foam on the top of the cup, which makes it an even more authentic Moroccan tea ceremony experience.
For that full experience, ideally you would have an exotic silver teapot with long, curved spouts (the better to pour that tea from higher up). These often artisan-made teapots with hand-hammered designs are as beautiful as they are functional: Moroccan tea is made using boiling water poured into the teapots, so if you don’t have a teapot that can handle that intensity of heat, you’ll want to make sure you obtain one before going full-on Moroccan tea ceremony.
Create an Authentic Moroccan Tea Experience
Invite some friends over and bring the joy of a Moroccan tea ceremony into your home.
*If you wish, you can also use our Moroccan Mint Green Tea, which is gunpowder tea with peppermint. This means you can skip adding the fresh mint, or if you prefer, add more mint to your liking.
Have you been fortunate enough to travel to Morocco and experience their mint tea firsthand? If so, share your experience in the comments!
September 22, 2021
I spent 6 months in Tangiers back in 1970. I loved the Mint Tea ! I drank many glasses of it along with Kuawa Hulib ( my poor spelling of the word for coffee with milk ) But there was another tea, that was served at the café where more natives drank than Europeans ( all non natives ). they served a tea that I loved but never could figure out what it was. Now I no longer remember what it’s Moroccan name was . It had an unusual taste, and there was some herb, not mint, that made it special. If anyone knows what I am referring to, I’d love to hear from them :)
September 22, 2021
Eric, thanks for this article about Moroccan tea. I am from Morocco. Your description is correct for the most part. Fresh mint and a lot of it is a must, not just few leaves. Typically a whole bunch is out in the teapot. Adding orange blossoms make it heavenly! Unfortunately can’t find it here. I believe that pouring from up high is not just for theatrics. I believe there is more to it (oxygenation or something of that sort) but I am not 100% sure. Thanks for your articles. I learn a lot from them. I am a tea lover and can’t get enough of it! Love many of your teas.
September 03, 2021
I absolutely love Harney’s Moroccan Mint and usually add a teaspoon of loose spearmint to every 2 tsp of tea. Perfect.
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Enjoy getting to know Tsuyoshi Sugimoto, the owner and president of Shohokuenchten tea company in Kyoto, Japan, and a longtime colleague and friend of the Harneys.
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September 22, 2021
After an early morning transport, my husband and I had taken the ferry from Spain to Morocco, where we continued sightseeing with our tour director and fellow passengers. Our minds filled with new experiences, but our energy was flagging and our feet were tired. What a relief and comfort it was to finally arrive at our hotel to be greeted with the delightful ceremonial Moroccan tea. Delicious! And an experience we look forward to recreating at home.