Traditional Moroccan mint tea made with fresh nana mint (spearmint) and Chinese gunpowder tea is a deliciously sweet and refreshing beverage. In Morocco, it is an important part of the culture and social life, and it has become common throughout North Africa.
Mint is definitely one of my favorite herbs. I love its aroma and fresh taste, and it can be used in many beverages and dishes. In addition, mint is known for its many health benefits including improved digestion, helping with colds, and preventing nausea and stress. So go ahead, read this article and try my recipe of traditional Moroccan mint tea!
The Tradition of Mint Tea in Morocco
Hot herbal teas made from mint, sage and other ingredients have been probably consumed in Morocco for thousands of years. However, these infusions did not include sugar or green tea. It is not known when exactly green tea was introduced into Morocco, but it was probably during the 17th or 18th century.
What is sure, is that today tea is the most beloved drink for Moroccans, and the day usually starts and ends with it. And it is not just any tea, but the famous Moroccan mint tea, which is often consumed by people from all social classes. It is also a symbol of hospitality and is almost always served for guests, with or without food. Especially in the Maghreb area, it is a central part of social life and the serving of the tea often takes a ceremonial form.
Gunpowder tea from China is usually preferred for making the Moroccan tea. It consists of dried and compressed tea leaves that are in the form of pellets. You can order it from Amazon at a very affordable price.
In addition to the gunpowder tea, you need a generous amount of fresh nana mint. Nana mint, also known as Mentha spicata, is the Moroccan variety of spearmint. But you can very well use the normal spearmint found in most groceries. In addition, you can use a small amount of sage, thyme, lemon verbena, or various other herbs, if you wish to do so.
If you don’t have fresh mint available you can also use dried mint, or for example a ready-made Moroccan mint tea blend, like this excellent product from Tea Forte available from Amazon. You can find more great mint tea products in this article.
Then there is one more important thing, and that is, of course, sugar! Moroccans use a lot of it, but if you don’t want to use sugar, you can leave it out or replace it with raw organic honey (or stevia, etc.).
Below is the list of ingredients needed for 6 servings of traditional Moroccan mint tea:
- A large bunch of fresh spearmint leaves (about 1 ounce), washed
- 1 tablespoon of Chinese gunpowder tea (green tea)
- 3 or 4 tablespoons of sugar
- 4 cups of boiling water (about 1 liter)
You can just make do with whatever equipment you have available, but in order to prepare an authentic Moroccan tea experience, you will need a Moroccan teapot and tea glasses. If you get a proper set, you can really surprise your guests when serving them the tea!
Here is a nice set that includes everything you need (just click on the image to order it on Amazon):
If you want to get the pot and glasses separately, here is a silver-plated teapot which is handmade in Fez, Morocco:
Here is a set of 6 really nice tea glasses:
And finally, here is an exquisite set of 6 glasses with holders and lids including a tray:
How to Prepare It
There are many different versions for preparing Moroccan mint tea depending on the region and preference. The one I will introduce here is one of the traditional ways.
- Boil about 4 cups (1 liter) of water.
- Use a traditional Moroccan teapot, with a built-in strainer. Pour a little bit of the boiling water into the teapot to rinse it and then discard the water.
- Put 1 tablespoon of gunpowder tea in the teapot. Pour a little bit of boiling water (a few tablespoons) into the pot and let the gunpowder tea soak for a while (about 1 minute). Pour the water out and discard it.
- Add the mint leaves and sugar into the pot. Pour 2 cups (about 1/2 liter) of boiling water into the pot. Put the teapot on a stove over medium heat and bring it to a gentle boil. Be careful not to boil it over! It is hot enough when you can see small bubbles and foam starting to form. Remove it from the heat, and don’t burn your hand (use a glove).
- To mix the tea, pour the tea into a glass and then pour it back into the teapot. Repeat at least 5 times. This is the preferred traditional method. If you want, you can just stir the tea in the pot with a spoon.
Here is a great video instruction about making Moroccan mint tea (the method is a bit different than what I described above):
How to Serve It
Now your tea is ready to be served. You will need small glasses for the tea since it’s very strong and sweet and will be sipped slowly. You can add some fresh mint sprigs in the glasses for extra flavor and visual appeal.
The tea should be poured from and arm’s length above the glass to achieve a nice foam on top. Don’t pour the glasses full, about two-thirds is a good amount. Moroccan mint tea can be served at any time of the day. It can be served just as it is, or you can serve it with dried fruits, or some sweet pastries. It is also common to serve it with a meal.
I recommend that you try the traditional way of making and serving Moroccan mint tea at least once. It is a really nice experience, and I’m sure that you will enjoy it! However, I understand that many people might want to avoid consuming too much sugar. So you can lessen the amount of sugar, use organic raw honey instead, or leave the sweetener out completely.
Also, if you don’t have the necessary equipment, a Moroccan teapot with a built-in strainer and suitable small glasses for serving the tea, you could try this tea in a Moroccan restaurant. Or you can use a regular teapot and pour the tea into the glasses through a separate strainer. If you don’t have fresh mint at hand, you can make it with dried mint.
As mentioned earlier, you can add several other herbs into the tea as the Berbers from High Atlas mountains are accustomed to. When adding the mint, you can also add almost any herb you feel like could fit in: thyme, marjoram, wormwood, or your local wild herbs.
One great version closely associated with the Moroccan mint tea is a Spanish version of it. It is basically the same tea, but it is chilled and served as an ice tea during a hot day. You can also add a dash of lemon or lime juice for extra freshness!
Enjoy Your Traditional Moroccan Mint Tea
I hope this recipe inspired you to try and prepare traditional Moroccan mint tea. Remember that you can always modify it to suit your own preferences. Mint is a delicious herb with many health benefits, and you can also prepare fresh mint tea without any sweeteners.
Personally, I really enjoy having some sweet Moroccan mint tea after a home-cooked North African or Middle Eastern type meal. Another one of my favorite ways of enjoying mint tea is by making it into an ice tea with lime juice and just a little bit of honey, and having it during a hot day!
If you have any questions or comments, or if you want to share your experience related to Moroccan mint tea, please post them in the comments section below.