Moroccan mint tea
'The famous, very sweet, mint tea is a symbol of hospitality: it is served [with pastries] as soon as guests arrive at a house and at all times of the day'.
Yours sincerely has been a coffee aficionado for much of her life. I can't quite recall my first ever cup of the beverage, but I do have very fond memories of my mother cooking a large pot of her milky Hungarian version of café au lait for the family every morning. She served this coffee in wide cups and we would dunk slices of crusty Continental bread into the deliciously sweet, hot liquid. On some mornings it would do perfectly as our breakfast!
Curiously – and I might add, to my dismay – since being unwell earlier this year, my body cannot tolerate more than one weensy macchiato in the morning. So, while my work colleagues grind fresh coffee beans for the morning, I have turned my attentions to drinking mint tea in the Moroccan style. 'Would you like some tea?,' I ask. To wit the reply: 'No thanks, that's too healthy.' True, it is said that mint aids digestion and improves the appetite, so it is indeed good for you. Well done me!
Spearmint is considered the best for Moroccan mint tea, whereas peppermint is used in herbal teas. So, what's the difference? My Peter can pick the difference between the two simply by the scent of the leaves. Renowned herb and spice seller, Ian 'Herbie' Hemphill, confirms in his book Herbaceous, that peppermint (Mentha piperita) 'has a high menthol content and produces the true oil of peppermint ... [which has a] rather overpowering antiseptic character.' Whereas, 'spearmint (Mentha spicata) stands out from the crowd in the culinary department,' says Herbie, and 'it is spearmint, either fresh or dried, that gives flavour to mint sauce and mint jelly... [and is] 'an absolutely indispensable ingredient throughout the Middle East... [and] Morocco where mint is known as naa naa... and spearmint is used to make mint tea... the nation's most popular beverage.'
In fact, there are hundreds of varieties of mint, with leaves ranging from round to long and pointed in shape, plain green or variegated in colour, with flowers that vary from white to cream, and pink through to purple and lilac. Mint tends to crossbreed or 'hybridise' quite easily, and research tells me that the many varieties are perhaps hybrids of only two dozen species. In my kitchen garden I grow the delicately flavoured Thai mint (Mentha Thai); and the crinkly leafed common variety of spearmint, which is often sold simply as 'Mint'; together with Vietnamese mint, which Herbie says is not mint, rather a Polygonum (P. odoratum). I'm keen to try Applemint this season, as I love the thought of mint with an intoxicating apple aroma and flavour. Perhaps you grow or have cooked with Applemint? Do please tell.
Spearmint is considered the best for 'mint tea', peppermint is used in herbal teas...
On making mint tea...
MOROCCAN MINT TEA
Quantities will vary, dependent on the size of your teapot. Mine holds around 650 mls.
21/2 cups boiling water
handful of spearmint leaves, washed and patted dry
1-2 tablespoons raw sugar or honey, to taste
1-2 teaspoon tea leaves (your choice: I like 'Russian Caravan', but you might like green tea, such as Gunpowder)
First, heat your teapot by rinsing it with boiling water. Place the spearmint leaves, sugar and tea leaves into the teapot, then top up with boiling water and allow to infuse for several minutes before serving, strained. I find this tea is also quite delicious and refreshing when served cool or chilled.
'The famous, very sweet, mint tea is a symbol of hospitality'...
Moroccan mint tea is delicious and refreshing when served chilled...
Tell me about your beverage of choice. Are you a dedicated coffee or tea drinker? And do you grow varieties of mint?
24/9/2013 08:30:30 pm
Times do change, Serena. Green tea is great! Even better with spearmint!
This sounds great! I think the only tea I've ever made with fresh leaves was wintergreen, made from foraged leaves at scout camp in northern Wisconsin. Definitely tasty, but really strong when you're ten! Maybe I should start using the wild mint in my yard fresh instead of drying it...
24/9/2013 08:31:07 pm
Wow Eileen, what an adventurer you are! : D
24/9/2013 09:24:45 am
Probably the prettiest tea I have ever seen Lizzie! My daughter is the tea drinker...I'll be sure to share this article with her.
24/9/2013 08:31:23 pm
Barbara, so much, so very kind of you : )
24/9/2013 01:22:55 pm
this may be why i have never been able to make a satisfactory cup of mint tea using the stuff from my garden - it's probably not spearmint! a friend in melbourne has the best mint bush for tea and i'm always sad when i leave and cannot bring a cutting back into tas (quarantine would forbid it, i'm sure).
24/9/2013 08:31:58 pm
Hello there... interesting! Try spearmint and see how you go! Wish I could post some to you : )
24/9/2013 02:15:40 pm
Well, I definitely am a green tea gal, but this IS interesting! Yes, I do occasionally make tea the Moroccan way [tho' am not too good with the 'pouring ceremony'] but I also have probably used peppermint! Hmm, most of my mint pots are sans labels by now, but this does bear looking into :) ! Lovely photos!!
24/9/2013 08:32:37 pm
Oh, I forgot about the pouring ceremony. Thank you kindly... and I do hope you are getting better xo
24/9/2013 03:16:51 pm
Moroccan mint tea has so much flavor. And can be awfully sweet. I'm glad to see you toned down the amount of sugar. I lived in Morocco for about a year decades ago, and most of the tea I drank was so sweet your teeth would ache! Well, maybe I exaggerate a bit; but just a bit. ;-) Good post - thanks.
24/9/2013 08:33:21 pm
Wow, John, now I am envious! You lived in Morocco! Wow... and yes, I think cutting down the sugar is a good plan. Thank you for your kind words. : )
24/9/2013 08:34:06 pm
Krista, it does indeed! : )
24/9/2013 08:34:26 pm
Hugh, thank you kindly! Rooibos is delicious too! : )
24/9/2013 10:42:10 pm
I'm with you on spearmint - don't like peppermint much (excpet in brownies). I wish I could find a spearmint extract for matcha green tea, although I know I can infuse - but I'm impatient!. Your recipe sounds balanced: the drink you get at restaurants is invariably way too sweet for my taste. I like the leaves infused in a similar looking pot with dried papaya and apple too. Weird looking but good.
25/9/2013 10:20:54 pm
Kellie, thank you.... I don't like it sickly sweet... dried papaya and apple sounds yummy!
24/9/2013 11:21:31 pm
I have four colorful Moroccan tea glass but have never made Moroccan sweet tea. :)
25/9/2013 10:21:35 pm
Hi Karen... I thought about buying some of those, but seriously I don't need another thing in my house! : )
I mourn your loss of coffee though laughed that you can still squeeze in a macchiato. When I'm unwell I'm off the coffee too and often revert to peppermint (just the bags) as a way of enjoying a hot drink but also upping my water in take. I didn't realise the mint most of us use was spearmint. I always thought it was peppermint. I have a pot of that and but also have a pot of mint with elongated leaves. I wonder what that is?
25/9/2013 10:22:32 pm
LOL, Fiona, I love my macchiato.... some mornings I make two, and then pay for it with pain! I have some peppermint bags at home. The elongated leaves are, as I understand it, peppermint.
25/9/2013 03:01:42 am
Fresh mint tea was my go to medicine when I had tummy aches, however when I started drinking it socially, my husband would ask if there is something wrong with me!! No dear, I just like the taste ;)
25/9/2013 10:22:52 pm
Too funny, Lisa. It is quite delicious, isn't it : )
25/9/2013 09:31:47 am
I had wonderful mint tea in Marakesch but I just don't seem to be able to replicate it here. I'm definitely going to try your recipe. GG
25/9/2013 10:23:30 pm
Aw GG, another who has been to Morocco... so envious! I hope you will try this and enjoy it. Of course, amend the flavours to suit your taste xo
29/9/2013 01:29:32 pm
Interesting, Fiona. I've had mint tea made by Moroccan people at stalls at the Multicultural Festival and loved it. I think mine measures up, albeit with less sugar. I wonder if they use cane sugar?
25/9/2013 07:25:54 pm
My sweet liking gene deserted me many years ago and I was put off Moroccan mint tea as a consequence.
25/9/2013 10:24:17 pm
Hi Pat, I don't enjoy anything too sickly sweet either. Try this and tone down the sugar to your taste. It is quite refreshing. : )
25/9/2013 09:33:45 pm
Looks very refreshing - I want to try! Haven't seen spearmint around but I'm sure I can source it to grow, do you use it in anything else?
25/9/2013 10:25:52 pm
Hello Chantelle and welcome to Good Things. You may have seen some spearmint at you local supermarket, farmer's market or greengrocer, I'm sure. The long leafed one is peppermint, the round is spearmint. Other recipes are here http://www.bizzylizzysgoodthings.com/apps/search?q=mint The chocolate ice cream is heavenly!
What an enjoyable post to read although as an avid coffee drinker I sympathize that you have to cut back on the caffeine. Do please post about your mother's Hungarian cafe au lait sometime - would love to know the particular details.
26/9/2013 01:44:45 pm
Azita, thank you.... and thank you for sharong a little of your Persian information too. I love your work! Thank you again for your kind words xo
26/9/2013 04:59:47 pm
We're big fans of mint tea in our house. It's wonderful that you've found an alternative to coffee that you enjoy.
27/9/2013 10:33:23 pm
Absolutely! Great to know you enjoy it too! : )
27/9/2013 10:32:59 pm
I want your tea pot Lizzy, looks so elegant but unusual at the same time and I like black tea pots.
27/9/2013 10:36:49 pm
Helene, thank you! Would you believe it's not actually my tea pot! It is always on the kitchen bench at the office and was very stained... I took it home, cleaned it and used it for this shoot, and then returned it... I have several other tea pots of various sizes, but thought it would present nicely for this post. You might enjoy some chilled mint tea on such a hot day.
29/9/2013 01:29:52 pm
Any time, my lovely friend, any time : )
29/9/2013 06:59:07 pm
I have such a sore throat that a jug of this would go down a treat right now! I am also keen to try apple mint :)
30/9/2013 08:56:48 pm
Tandy, sorry to hear you are unwell... that's a pain! I am going to be on the lookout for apple mint. Get well soon : )
30/9/2013 08:56:59 pm
Rosa, thank you : )
30/9/2013 12:02:31 am
I need to have a nice strong coffee in the mornings but after that I am a tea girl.
30/9/2013 08:57:13 pm
Sounds like me nowadays, GG x
2/10/2013 06:14:28 pm
Amanda, lovely description!
3/10/2013 03:33:05 am
What a refreshing morning brew! Or indeed a good pick me up for the afternoon too :D
3/10/2013 03:53:47 pm
So true, Lorraine, I'm enjoying this throughout the day : )
7/10/2013 03:01:32 am
Wow, I've never tried this! I'm excited to see this recipe...I'm pretty hooked in green tea right now as I'm eating a lot! Thank you xx
7/10/2013 08:13:07 pm
Hello Deena, I hope you might try it! Let me know if you do. Welcome and thanks for stopping by : )
15/10/2013 04:51:44 am
I love ordering this tea but haven't made it at home, thanks so much for sharing your recipe!
16/10/2013 04:47:39 pm
Hi Nancy, my pleasure... I hope you will give this a try soon xo
19/10/2013 02:41:18 pm
Zsuzsa dear, sorry to hear you have a cold, I would love to bring you some chicken soup xo
20/10/2013 05:02:00 pm
Thanks Zsuzsa xo
18/1/2014 09:41:23 am
I've switched back to tea in the mornings this last year, but I do still enjoy my espresso! I have got some cute Moroccan tea glasses, so I will have to try the Moroccan tea, sounds pretty inviting in this hot weather are having!
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