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Morocco

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 Travel

8 Bucket List Travel Destinations for Tea Lovers

March 7, 2016

Nothing beats starting the day off with a great cup of tea – except maybe starting the day with a great cup of tea in a foreign country. Tea has been a household staple in many parts of the world for ages and many of the traditions that correspond to tea still exist today as a staple to their respective cultures. If you’re a tea lover, you have to travel to these countries so you can experience the wonders of tea from their points of view:

Turkey:

Turkey is one of the biggest tea drinking nations in the world. The people drink up to four or five cups of tea per day, so you won’t feel out of place when it comes time to satisfy your tea craving. Tea is so strongly integrated into the culture that it is even considered an important part of Turkish hospitality. From offers of free cups of tea while shopping to complimentary tea service when staying at a local guesthouse, there won’t be a shortage of opportunities to sample the many different flavors of Turkish tea.

Russia:

Russia is a country famous for two drinks: vodka and tea. Their tea consumption is unparalleled and has become an extremely significant aspect of Russian culture. Although other types of tea are available, the Russian population almost exclusively drinks black loose-leaf tea, which is brewed in a small teapot with a high concentration of tea leaves to water (a concoction known as “zavarka”). The mixture is then mixed with boiled water, the quantity dependent on the drinker’s preferred strength. Tea in Russia is also not meant to be served “naked,” or without food to accompany it. Gathering for tea is the most common way for people to socialize in Russia, so therefore there is almost no occasion or situation where it isn’t appropriate to sip on a cup of tea.

China:

Chinese tea culture is the oldest in the world, dating back to the 10th century B.C. The tea plant actually originated in China, so there’s definitely no shortage of historic tea regions to visit (to name a few – West Lake, Wuyishan and Yunnan). Long before tea became the country’s beverage of choice, it was considered a medicinal staple, said to promote long life and vitality. In today’s modern society, tea drinking customs and traditions are still prevalent – though at a more sociable level. Travelers are often invited to join their hosts for a cup of tea and can also enjoy it at well-known teahouses across the country. Tea lovers can enjoy a variety of tea flavors in China, ranging from green tea, to white, black and flowering teas.

Sri Lanka:

Sri Lanka boasts a $1.5 billion tea industry, making it one of the biggest growers and exporters of black and green tea worldwide. Its renowned Ceylon tea comes in a range of flavors that fall into three main categories: low-grown, medium-grown, and high-grown, referring to the various elevations of the plantations. The nation’s selection of tea plantations offers visitors a chance to taste the locally grown tea and learn the intricacies of production firsthand. Tea is the refreshment of choice for most Sri Lankans, so you can expect to be presented with a freshly brewed pot at any social gathering.

Morocco:

In Morocco, brewing and drinking tea is a tradition carried out with great care, representing both hospitality and friendship. Tea preparation, referred to as “atai,” is typically executed by the male head of the family and considered to be an art form passed down through generations. Mint leaves and sugar are added to a green tea base to create the signature Moroccan mint tea, which is served throughout the day, though particularly at mealtimes. The tea is served in small glasses and is only considered drinkable if it has foam on top. The pouring of the tea is done from a long curved spout and from a height of at least twelve inches – a practiced method that, when done correctly, signifies an experienced host or hostess. These many customs are exclusive to the Moroccan tea drinking culture, something that must be experienced firsthand.

India:

In India, locals consume chai tea on a daily basis. Seriously, you can barely walk a block without coming across it on the street, in a train station or at a restaurant. Tea lovers can travel to the famous town of Darjeeling, which is home to some of the most beautiful tea plantations in the world. There they can admire stunning views while sampling their famous Darjeeling tea, a staple to the Indian tea drinking community.

Japan:

Tea is the most common drink in Japan and an integral part of the country’s culture. The beverage can be found in practically all restaurants, as well as in vending machines, kiosks, convenience stores and supermarkets. Tea is also served to visitors at various temples and gardens, allowing tourists to sample the unique flavors while simultaneously admiring the beautiful scenery. Green tea is the most common type of tea, and also the central element of the Japanese tea ceremony. These honored ceremonies can last for several hours and put an emphasis on etiquette and Zen-inspired spirituality. By attending one of these tea ceremonies, tea lovers can learn a lot about the Japanese culture and the important part tea plays in it.

England:

The phrase, “as English as a cup of tea,” depicts how ingrained tea is in English society. English people are particularly proud of being “tea people,” which can be seen in the nearly 2 kilograms of tea consumed per person each year. The most quintessential of English customs is perhaps the activity of afternoon tea. Traditional afternoon tea consists of various teas served with a selection of dainty sandwiches, scones, cakes and pastries. Most hotels in England also offer the opportunity to experience the best of the tradition, so tea lovers definitely won’t miss out when they visit.

Have you visited any other tea-loving countries? Let us know in the comments below!