Recipe: Traditional North African Green Mint Tea


Do you have a steady hand? Can you pour tea from several feet up without shaking, spilling, or missing entirely?

If so, give me a call.

We’re going to need you.

We’ve got some frothy tea to make.

It’s going to be fun. In fact, quite possibly the most fun I’ve had on this Adventure to eat the world is when we try new teas. The effort is minimal, yet the flavor impact is huge.

Today is no exception.

Not only did we buckle up to try the super sweet “Morroccan-style” green mint tea served all over north Africa, but I took care to prepare it the traditional way, in small glass tea cups (available at Middle Eastern markets – 6/$6).  The trick is to cook the tea several times and pour the tea from way up high -about 2-3 feet. This creates a frothy top that looks, right after pouring, a lot like a tiny tumbler of beer.

And then there’s quite possible the most important part: the chitter chatter along the way. This is a social activity.

A time to connect and reconnect.

A time to daydream.

I got the idea to make this tea couple of weeks ago when I cooked Mali. Mette, a long-time reader, suggested it and sent me a link to the video at the bottom of this post. Unfortunately I was making bissap at the time, and the preparation is a bit different for hibiscus than for green and black teas. I knew, however, that I wanted to try the technique.

Thankfully I didn’t have to wait long. The same basic preparation is enjoyed in Mauritania. And, to be honest, I’m not sure I could have waited much longer to try it.

So, friends, let’s get ready to pour.

To quote Ava “higher, higher!”

NOTE: After the second boiling, you can pour the tea into a new kettle to “strain out” the tea leaves. I didn’t have a second kettle, so I didn’t worry about this step.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

6 cups water
2 Tbsp green/mint tea combo (think “Moroccan Mint”)
sugar (enough to fill 2 shot glasses), about 3/4 cup

Method:

Get excited. You’re about to have an amazing tea party.

First, gather a good quality loosleaf mint & green tea blend, or mix your own by combining green tea with a few fresh mint leaves.

Boil the tea in water for about two minutes. Let the mixture rest until all the tea leaves settle on the bottom of the kettle. Then pour it out. From really high up. This can take some practice. You might find it easier to start off low and raise the kettle as you pour.

Now, empty the cups back into the tea kettle and boil a second time for a couple of minutes.

Let rest again. Sit around and chit chat while you wait. Laugh a little. Then laugh a lot.

Pour the tea out again. It will be somewhat foamy on top.

Boil the tea a third time for about two minutes. Meanwhile, measure out 2 parts sugar (just fill two of your tumblers with sugar or, if presentation doesn’t matter simply measure out 3/4 cup). Add this sugar to the tea kettle, let the mixture settle, and pour the tea back out into the glasses.

Now (are you still with me?!) … pour the tea back into the tea kettle and boil a fourth and final time.

Let rest again, for maybe ten minutes.

Finally, pour the sweet nectar into the glasses.

Again, from way up high! The tea looks like golden, honey beer.

Higher, higher!

This is sweet, sweet, sweet.

Quite possibly as sweet as your baby-love.

And the flavor is immense. Like a sugar-filled dream.

Here’s a glass, especially for you:

Psst.. where would you most like your tea party? In a Mauritanian oasis, or along the “Road of Hope”?

Because wherever you’d like, I’ll join you. Together we can raise a glass (and a kettle) to life, love, and laughter…

… and, of course, to that which is near and dear to your heart.

UPDATE 7/3/12: Here’s how Ava has her tea parties now… our Adventure is definitely having an impact…

Photo: Ava parties like a north African. Look at that height!! http://instagr.am/p/MobPfmD77K/

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Comments

  1. Beautiful!

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Thanks, Emily – I’m so glad I finally tried it out… it’s definitely going to be a regular feature at teatime :)

  2. I do love the dramatic pouring from up high (in my case it was having coffee served in Turkey) but I have never dared try, so I can’t help you prepare but would be happy to help drink up! As for all this pouring back and forth, I had no idea! But, my two boys love the “pouring game” so I imagine they could get into this. That sugar wouldn’t hurt either.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Yes – I think it would be great fun with the kids (over a tray or outside ha ha)… let me know how it goes if you and the boys do end up trying it (just be careful not to burn each other – let it rest a while after every boiling) :)

  3. I stayed with Tuareg nomads in the southern Sahara in Niger and a lot of their days were passed leisurely brewing and drinking this delicious tea. Something like this. http://cloud.foodista.com/content/images/627fea732031b7911ed59dba40f79919f1c4527e_607x400.jpg (Photo is from Internet.)

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Love it! Such a graceful art. So great you got to experience it firsthand! Looking forward to improving myself :)

  4. aunty eileen says:

    some of my most enjoyable times while staying in Russia was when we sat around small table drinking delicious tea and even some times we would have fun ‘reading our tea leaves’…. yes, the tea leaves never settle the same way twice after giving a bit of a stir…. and if you look closely will always ‘see’ something interesting :-)

    • Sasha Martin says:

      That would be fun to learn a bit about… I wonder what my tea leaves would say…

      • aunty eileen says:

        we just had fun… nothing serious: as we were drinking tea (there would always be a some leaves in bottom of cup or glass… some men prefer drinking from a glass at times, after putting cup down and the leaves settled it would be fun to see if we could see some interesting ‘patterns’ such as a shape of an animal or country or even an item and sometimes yes, we were even inspired by something by what we saw and would say… OMG look …. or we we be discussing a subject and then look to see what tea was maybe saying…. it is called Tasseography, Sasha, if you don’t like a bit of tea flakes in your cup or glass of tea… save the dried tea leaves from your teapot and you and Ava can just sprinkle them on a white plate…. you can see how it looks here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tasseography

        • Sasha Martin says:

          What’s funny is that, with this tea, I liked chewing the leaves because they become so super saturated with sugar. A new guilty pleasure…

  5. Fun. I did a blog post on this 5 or so years ago after craving the super-sweet mint tea I’d known in Morocco. The mint they use in Morocco tastes almost like marigolds smell. Fresh spearmint or silver mint is the closest I’ve found to the type of mint that they use, but it’s still not quite right. And gunpowder green tea is the closest I’ve found to the tea they use. However, I think the “washing” of the tea, aerating it by pouring it from a height, saturating it with sugar, and serving it in small glasses lends to the taste and experience as much as having exactly the right mint or type of tea.

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  1. […] tagines, carrot salads, semolina pancakes, and – of course- the famous, outrageously sweet Moroccan mint tea. We also made this recently and loved it. When I was in Tunisia I was told that north Africans […]

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