Heather's Marrakesh Mint Tea
My travels have taken me many places and Morocco is one of those you just can't leave out. You can barely take a step in the markets of Marrakesh without tripping over fresh mint, or at least without being offered a glass of hot, sweet mint tea. Be sure to lift the teapot high above the cup while pouring; Moroccans appreciate the way this aerates the tea (and they always pour with great panache). I'll detail that below as well as the traditional way to prepare this international delight.
Traditionally, the tea is served three times. The amount of time it has been steeping gives each of the glasses of tea a unique flavor, described in this famous Maghrebi proverb:
|Le premier verre est aussi doux que la vie,
le deuxième est aussi fort que l'amour,
le troisième est aussi amer que la mort.
|The first glass is as gentle as life,
the second is as strong as love,
the third is as bitter as death.
The tea is first put in the teapot and a small quantity of boiling water is added. The tea is left to infuse for approximately 20–30 seconds. This initial liquid is poured out and kept aside. This is the "spirit" of the tea and will be added back after the tea is washed, to restore the "spirit" (the "spirit" of the tea is essentially a strong, deeply flavored liquid from the initial infusion, which adds extra flavor to the final infusion). The tea is then "cleaned" by adding a small quantity of boiling water; that is poured out after one minute (to lessen the bitterness). This process may be repeated more than once. Mint and sugar are added (amounts vary; approximately five teaspoons of sugar for one teaspoon of tea leaves is typical), and water at the boiling point is then poured in the pot. The pot may then be taken to heat and further boiled to increase the flavor of the infusion. After three to five minutes, a glass is served and poured back in the pot two to three times to mix the tea. Tea is then tasted (sugar if needed may be added) until the infusion is fully developed.