fbpx
Browsing Tag

history

Tea History & Culture

The History of Moroccan Tea

January 6, 2022

There are many different tales that people believe when it comes to the birth of tea in Morocco. Some historians believe that the British Queen Victoria personally sent over tea to the Queen of Morocco, while others believe it was introduced by the Arabs when they first arrived in Morocco. While the history of how tea arrived in Morocco has been a debated topic by historians for years, it is important to understand the culture and art of tea as it is known in Moroccan culture. The art of tea drinking has been a part of the Moroccan culture for centuries and there are many different traditions and tales about Moroccan tea culture. It holds a symbolic value in Morocco and the state has since become one of the largest tea importers in the world.

As trade increased throughout Morocco in the late 1800s, tea spread throughout the country. Tea has since become part of the Moroccan ritual and a social rite in the state. People first started drinking tea in Morocco because they were not allowed to drink alcohol. This is why Moroccan tea can sometimes be referred to as the berber of whiskey because it served as a placeholder for the alcohol they were not allowed to consume. Muslims were forbidden from consuming alcohol for religious purposes, so they looked to Moroccan tea as a logical alternative. Moroccans refer to tea is Attay. It is a sacred drink that offers a sense of welcoming and generosity to anyone passing through or visiting.

Although tea is not grown in Morocco, it is a huge part of their culture and everyday life. The most famous Moroccan tea is Moroccan Mint Tea. Moroccan Mint Tea or Maghrebi mint tea is a symbol of hospitality and generosity and is often consumed when meeting with family, friends, acquaintances, and more. It is green tea prepared with mint leaves, sugar, and sometimes other herbs. It is a tea that is meant to be prepared in front of guests and can be consumed at any time of the day. It is usually prepared on a large tray with a teapot full of hot water, green tea leaves, herbs, mint leaves, and sugar. The teapot where you will often find Moroccan mint tea is called a Sinia tea tray. Typically, they are silver and have matching silver sets to accompany them. The portions are usually served in a large pot which means you never consume just one glass. This is another example of hospitality in the Moroccan tea culture.

Moroccan tea is mixed by pouring the infusion from teapot to teapot and allowing it to cool down in the process. The secret to making the best Moroccan Mint Tea lies in the amount of ingredients you put in and the time in which the ingredients infuse together. The sweeter the tea, the more value you are as a guest to the host serving your tea. Another fact that can be associated with the importance of a guest is the height at which the host pours the tea from the teapot. The higher the teapot is, the important you are as a guest. This ritual is also scientific, as it helps in oxygenating the tea and facilitate digestion. The large portions are meant to serve as an inviting, welcoming factor. It is often prepared by a male, typically the head of the family, whereas the food is prepared by the women in the family. Sipping loudly is a symbol of Western etiquette as it shows a sign of appreciation to the host or preparer of the tea. If you find yourself in a Moroccan marketplace, vendors may offer you tea to invite you in and try to sell their product to you. Moroccan tea traditions are not only popular in Morocco, but in the surrounding North African states as well.

Some foods that are typically paired with Moroccan tea include traditional dishes such as couscous or B’sara (bean soup). The sky is the limit here but don’t be surprised to find a table laden with loads of carbohydrates. Pastries and breads make up a bulk of the typical sweets at the table when enjoying Moroccan Tea. Msemmen is a favorite snack for kids and adults alike. They’re usually offered at breakfast or in the late afternoon for snacks. They can be served sweet with honey and butter or made savory and stuffed with onions and spices. Another dish you are likely to see is a plate of Moroccan cookies better known as Ghoriba Bahla. These delicate cookies are shortbread with almonds and sesame seeds.

Brew your own serving of Moroccan Mint Tea using our Gunpowder Green Tea. Moroccan Mint Tea is easy to make and relies heavily on timing. Start by gathering the ingredients: gunpowder green tea, fresh mint leaves, sugar, and water. Gunpowder Green Tea is a Chinese-style tea that is rolled into small balls to resemble gunpowder. In Morocco, it is directly imported from China. Start by boiling your water in a kettle and adding the gunpowder green tea leaves. Cover the leaves and allow the water to steep. After straining and disregarding the leaves, add fresh mint and sugar to the pot. Allow the combination to steep for just over 5 minutes. To achieve the perfect infusion, pour the pot back and forth between two containers and then serve on a Sinia Tea set.

Moroccan tea is a sign of appreciation that should be accepted upon offering. It is a sign of hospitality that is meant to welcome guests and serve as an act of generosity and kindness. It is a long and leisurely experience that is meant to be enjoyed by all. Its cultural importance cannot be overstated. Whether you want to enjoy its role in local society or to experience Moroccan Mint Tea benefits, you’re in for a treat.

Tea History & Culture

The Rich History of Chai Tea

December 7, 2021

This delightful, steaming cup of tea that everyone loves, is full of rich history that dates back over 5,000 years. Chai tea contains Assam black tea, as well as a mixture of aromatic spices, which was passed down through many generations and is now many customers’ favorite tea! In this article, we’ll be exploring the history of chai, and what’s inside each steaming cup.

What is Chai Tea?

Chai is a Hindi word that means “tea.” Although the origin of masala chai remains a mystery, the original chai tea comes from South Asia. The Assam region in India is where the origins of chai tea are found. Native tea plants were commonly used by South Asians in ancient times as forms of herbal medicine. They also appeared to be able to treat simple illnesses such as the common cold. Chai tea has been loved throughout the centuries due to its many health benefits. 

Traditional chai spices are black tea mixed with cinnamon, star anise, and cardamom. However, chai recipes vary from one household to another and from region to region, as they were passed down through many different generations. The modern chai latte is made by steeping Assam black tea leaves in boiled whole milk.

In the early 1700s, chai tea cultures had spread all the way from East Asia and Western Europe. The British East India Company began cultivating the crop in British India in the 1830s.

India was overwhelmed with the beginning introduction of morning chai. A lot of the Indians now drink at least two to three cups daily at the very minimum. Traditional chai tea was introduced to the world around the 1900s. It later quickly became a popular drink. 

What’s Inside a Cup of Chai?

Traditional chai drinks can be made in many different places, so there is no single recipe that defines chai. These are the main ingredients that chai contains.

Tea: Most popular chai bases are the Darjeeling and Assam black tea from India. You can also make chai with different types of green teas such as the South American herb Yerba Mate and the South African herbal red rooibos ingredients. There are also herbal blends that contain no tea leaves and are made entirely from herbs.

Sweetener: While honey, brown sugar, and white sugar are the most common chai sweeteners for maintaining sweetness, other sugars such as demerara or turbinado can also be used when making chai. Jaggery is an unrefined sugar from cane that is used in India and is almost always used when producing chai. 

Milk: Buffalo milk is popular milk used in India when making chai. The modern-day version of chai is more commonly made with alternative dairy products like soy milk, coconut milk, almond, and rice. To have the best tasting chai possible it may be necessary to steep strong chai in water and add some milk to it. You will find many recipes telling you to simmer the spices with a mixture of milk and water or to even use all milk when doing so.

Spices: Spices such as chai (also known as masala) can vary depending on where they are originating and the cultural preferences. Cardamom, ginger, and cloves were the most common chai spices, and they were all easily available in India to be used in the production of chai. Traditional recipes may include vanilla, nutmeg, and star anise. Bay leaf, allspice, and cacao became increasingly popular as chai moved west. In some recipes, cumin and coriander may also be a selection of ingredients to be used.

Chai tasting

There are many chai recipes, so the beverage can be made in many different ways depending on what ingredients are used. Chai with a lot of ginger and black peppercorns may have a fiery taste. Other chai that contains more vanilla, cinnamon, or nutmeg might leave behind a lasting sweeter taste on your palate. Some chai teas may have a bitter earthiness from cacao or saffron. Other times, fennel and cumin could have a more savory flavor.

Many chai teas are made differently based on the culture in which you are purchasing, and it is helpful to know and understand the different varieties and rich cultural history of chai tea. These teas are made all over the world.

Interested in brewing your own steaming cup?

Tea History & Culture

Thanksgiving-Themed Teas to Honor the Holiday

November 8, 2016

In November 1621, English Pilgrims and Wampanoag Native Americans gathered for the first Thanksgiving feast at Plymouth. Almost 400 years later, we carry on the tradition, gathering with friends and family to eat great food and give thanks for the blessings in our lives. While turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie tend to get all the attention on this holiday, we’re here to remind you not to forget about tea!  Whether you’re hosting a gathering or searching for something memorable to bring to a shindig, here are some Thanksgiving-themed tea ideas to diversify your holiday spread while honoring this day’s history:

1) Yaupon Tea

According to NPR, yaupon tea was a beverage consumed by Native Americans about a thousand years ago. Made from the caffeinated leaves of yaupon trees in the southeast by Native American tribes such as the Florida Ais and Timucua, it was used in important cultural ceremonies. Rich in antioxidants, this tea comes from the only native caffeinated plant in North America. We’re not sure if the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims drank this tea at Thanksgiving, but if you want to try something our Native American ancestors drank a thousand years ago, this is the tea for you.

Consider buying youpon tea from Cat Spring Tea or from the Yaupon Brothers American Tea Company.

2) Sassafras Tea

According to the New York Times, Native Americans made tea by brewing sassafrass around the time of the First Thanksgiving. In Louisiana, Native Americans also used it to make file, a thickening agent for soup, particularly gumbo. Sassafras has a number of exciting benefits. Per Livestrong, herbalists use it to treat poison oak and eczema, and to induce sweating out toxins when a patient’s feeling under the weather. Plus, it tastes like root beer (#yum). But sassafras has some health risks: when animals ingested large quantities of sassafrss in lab experiments, they exhibited confusion and difficulty walking. Small quantities—like those in a cup of tea—won’t do the same to you, but pregnant women should avoid it to be on the safe side.

Try buying sassafras tea bags from East India Tea or Old Honey Barn’s Kentucky Straight Sassafras concentrate.

3) Cranberry Tea

Native American tribes made wide use of the cranberry, using it to treat medical maladies like fever and constipation, as a clothing dye, and for nutrition. University of Kansas Professor and Choctaw Nation citizen Devon Mihesuah told National Geographic that Native Americans ate cranberries plain or dried and brewed tea from their leaves. Before Clif Bars, Native Americans also used cranberries to make an early energy bar called pemmican. The bars mashed deer meet and cranberries together and lasted for months, providing nutrition on-the-go for fur traders.

If pemmican sounds like your jam, try the Organic Grassfed Beef Mightly Bar featuring Cranberry & Sunflower Seeds from Organic Prairie.

If you’re not feeling quite that adventurous, stick with cranberry tea.  Consider trying your hand at this recipe for hot cranberry tea, or buying Cranberry Tea from Buddha Teas, Cranberry Blood Orange Black Tea from Republic of Tea, or Cranberry Apple Herbal Tea from Bigelow.

4) Pumpkin Tea

According to History.com, the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag both ate pumpkins on the regular before the First Thanksgiving. But they didn’t have flour, butter, or an oven, so there was no pumpkin pie for dessert. So preparing a pumpkin seed dish or pumpkin tea for your gathering would more historically accurate.

Try this recipe for Honey and Tea-Spiced Pumpkin Seeds from Food & Wine.

Or treat yourself to a cup of pumpkin tea, such as the Sweet Harvest Pumpkin Tea from Celestial Seasonings, Pumpkin Spice Tea from Bigelow, or Organic Oolong Pumpkin Spice Tea from Capital Teas.

Happy Thanksgiving!