A few months ago I collaborated on a guest post with Free People to share the tradition behind Moroccan Mint Tea. Julie (the editorial specialist at Free People) and I joined paths at Terrain at Glenn Mills on a blustery grey day, where she photographed the warm, sweet sip after I steeped it in their kitchen.
The process and practice of making a traditional pot of Moroccan Mint Tea is truly steeped theater. The three basic ingredients are Chinese gunpowder green tea, spearmint and sugar. Chinese gunpowder green tea (the rolled, ball-shaped tea leaves are said to resemble gunpowder pellets), is a bold green tea that is slightly smoky and can stand up to the freshness of the mint.
When you visit the FP blog for my Moroccan Mint Tea recipe, you will find a slightly adapted version of the traditional Moroccan Mint Tea process that still preserves many traditional steps. For example, an everyday pot would be replaced with an intricately engraved silver Moroccan teapot that can be placed directly on the fire. And the large quantity of sugar has been swapped with winter-friendly rich, soothing honey from our friends at Terrain. And rather than stir the pot after adding the sweetener, the tea would be poured out of the tea pot and into a traditional Moroccan glass and then back into the teapot. This process would be repeated three to four times to mix the sugar and cool the tea.
One of the most essential steps in making Moroccan Mint Tea is steeping the first cup and reserving it for later use. This first steep is referred to as the “soul” of the tea, as it is said to contain the essence of what the leaves carry. The second steep is discarded, as this step is supposed to wash the tea of impurities. There is something so sacred and soothing about preserving the soul of a natural element, while washing it to purify the flavor for the final steep. It offers a cleansing stage to the darker days of winter.
And then there is the artful pour that takes practice and skill to achieve the perfect frothy foam. While this step is not included in the recipe (as it can cause some splashing of hot tea), you create the effect by placing the spout of the teapot right into the glass, and pouring the tea while simultaneously raising the teapot at least one foot (or even higher) above the glass. Considering that this recipe makes enough tea for 3 to 4 guests and the act of making Moroccan Mint tea is a sign of hospitality, I’d say this recipe calls for a gathering to celebrate the impending snowfall or escape from chilled air.
Although if you’d prefer to find a simpler way to enjoy the slightly smoked minty flavors of the tea, you can often find a Moroccan Mint tea that is a blend of dried mint and Gunpowder green tea. You will simply need to heat water to 175 degrees (bring the water to a boil and cool for a few minutes) and then steep the tea for approximately two to three minutes. And you can either infuse it with fresh mint for a brighter flavor as it steeps, or simply garnish your tea cup to add a bit of green on a grey winter day.