Demys-tea-fied

23 Feb

Hmm.  I want to follow up that sad and heavy post with something light.

Introducing….::drum roll::….my new camera!  Yes, I’ve had it over a week now.  I’m in awe of it.  From now on, these will no longer be boring wordy posts.  They will be boring wordy posts, with pictures!

And my experience in photography?  It boils down to this: faint memories of a photography class, taken a billion years ago, before digital cameras existed! Yes, excuse me a minute as I wax nostalgic over the simplicity of those days, the way you treasured each photo, the way you really took your time before shooting, the way you were up to your elbows in toxic chemicals, dodging and burning as if your life depended on it, the excitement as the photo appears on paper and you’re seeing it for the first time…

Well, now photography is in a fast and furious age, right?  Pictures are certainly not in short supply.

My other photography wisdom comes from a friend of mine who recently increased my photography knowledge by about 200%.  He said “if you want one thing in focus, and everything else blurry, then open the aperture up wide.  If you want everything in focus, close the aperture up”.  That’s the kind of simple info I can use right now.  And  I’m gonna take it and just run with it for a while.   Eventually, I may be ready for a one-line lesson on exposure.  After that, I’ll be a photographer!  So easy!

[segues into main topic of post]  How to make a good pot of Moroccan tea.  Let me preface this by saying, I’m not much of a tea drinker, nor do I necessarily encourage or condone the drinking of Moroccan tea on a regular basis.  But, it’s good to know how to make it, to impress your friends.  Also, in our family, Hamza is the master of tea ceremonies.  Up until recently, I viewed tea-making as something that required as much skill as making a ship in a bottle, or growing a bonzai tree.  I would break out into cold sweats when faced with a box of green tea, a bunch of mint, and a mini mountain of sugar.  In a panic, I’d rush around the house shouting “Is there a tea doctor in the house, it’s an emergency!”.  Usually some more steady handed person would step up, and I’d watch in awe, as they worked their magic, and the pot of tea slowly came to life.

But one day, I decided, enough is enough.  I need to grow up and assume my tea making responsibilities.  So I learned, and guess what, it’s not that hard!  And then people compliment you, which is the only reason to be in the kitchen in the first place.  And now, you are all going to learn how to make Moroccan tea too.

Oh, sweet Moroccan tea, it’s all instant gratification, no bitter tastes that need acquiring.  Unless of course you are one of those puritans who has not trained their taste buds to like sugar.  In that case, ahem, you might want to skip this post. (freak)  Also, it was recently brought to my attention by my friend Reading Morocco that Morocco is the world’s first importer of Chinese green tea!  That explains all this green tea everywhere!

Ingredients for (eponimous) Moroccan Mint Green Tea with Sugar, or Atay Maghribi:

1/4 cup green gunpowder tea

8 stalks of mint, use only the top 4 inches, discard the rest

About 5 giant cubes of sugar (1/2 to 1 cup of sugar)

Water

The ingredients

Fresh mint Diabetes here I come!

Ok, we’ll work on aligning the pictures later.

Boil a kettle of water.  Throw the green tea into the pot, it should cover the bottom of it.  After you’ve made tea a few times you will be able to adjust the amounts to your liking.  Next pour about a cup of boiling water into the teapot.  Pour this out into a glass that you keep, this is called the “soul” of the tea, in Arabic “errouh”.  It actually contains the caffeine motherlode.  Green tea seeps all its caffeine out in the first 30 seconds.

Ok, now pour another cup or two of boiling water into the teapot.  Swish it around, you’re rinsing the tea now.  Pour the water out and discard it.  Rinse it one or two more times if you wish.

Now fill the teapot almost all the way with boiling water.  Stuff in the mint, then the sugar.  Put the pot on a very low fire and let it simmer for a few minutes.

Here’s a good way to know when the tea is done: overfill the pot and then when it boils, it will spout tea all over your previously clean stovetop.  It will sound very much like your cat is coughing up a furball, and you will be immediately alerted that the Tea is Done.  I use this method every time.

You are ready for the penultimate step, the thorough mixing.  Pour out one glass, then pour it back in.  Repeat a few times.  Pour out a little and taste it.  Adjust the sugar if necessary.

Very important: when pouring the tea out, make sure you lift the teapot about 2 feet from the glass, this gives each glass a good head of foam, without which tea would be undrinkable.  Te

Now, if you’re going go to the trouble of making Moroccan tea, instead of plonking a PJ tips teabag into a cup of boiling water and calling it tea, then what you are wanting is not only the flavor but an authentic Moroccan experience.  To make this tea ceremony as Moroccan as possible, please avoid the following faux pas:

1. Drinking it from mugs.  Refined and lovely little glass tea cups are a must.  Leave the mugs to those beverage guzzling Americans.

2. Using loose sugar instead of “bricks”.  Yes, it might taste the same, but you loose a whole lot of authenticity points on that.

3. Using the whole stalk of mint.  Again, it’s about refinement, and the leaves change ever so subtly in taste as you move down the stalk.

4. Stirring it with a spoon.  That’s like eating Chinese food with a fork.

5. Drinking your tea alone.  Oh for shame.  And always add an extra glass on the tray, just in case, it’s an old Moroccan custom.

It was raining

I hope you find yourself sufficiently demys-tea-fied, for now.

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11 Responses to “Demys-tea-fied”

  1. Sumayya February 23, 2010 at 5:23 am #

    As Salaamu alaykum,

    I love you! and hope to drink tea with you soon insha’Allah.
    Is everyone alright?

    • moroccomama February 23, 2010 at 8:27 am #

      Sumayya, I love you too! Bezzaf. Wallah I’m sorely in need of your company. Everyone is fine, the kids are dealing with chicken pox, it’s not too bad. I edited to the post to link to your blog. I like what you’re doing over on Reading Morocco, I appreciate it a lot.

  2. Laura February 24, 2010 at 3:58 pm #

    LOVE this post! Before I visited Marrakesh last fall I had never tasted Moroccan mint tea. While there, of course, I fell in love with the syrupy sweet, yet elegant flavour. Was blessed to experience an authentic tea ceremony in the home of a Berber woman in the Atlas mountains.

    Now back in Canada, it would seem that poor replicas are everywhere – Starbucks and Stash teas offer up bagged versions of Moroccan mint tea that is watery and bland – why did I even bother to try drinking it?!

    You have inspired me!! I’m off to purchase proper glasses, and a proper pot – to browse Vancouver’s Chinatown for proper gunpowder green tea. I grow my own mint, so now….to find those enormous lumps of sugar is my next quest.

    • moroccomama February 25, 2010 at 11:10 pm #

      Laura, wow, you’re a woman on a mission. Glad you were inspired, although please consume in moderation. And those tea bag versions of Moroccan tea are just so wrong. The big sugar lumps have always intrigued me, they seem to be a uniquely Moroccan form of sugar. Let me know what you find.

  3. Emmanuel February 24, 2010 at 11:05 pm #

    Excellent post!!! As an MC of tea-dom myself, I have a couple of little suggestions:

    1. When rinsing the tea, leave the hot water in for a couple of minutes to really open the tea and get rid of the acidic taste.
    2. (I think this was simply an oversight) Remember to add “errouh” ~ the soul back into the pot with the sugar and mint.
    3. Lastly for those interested in new and exciting flavors, you can also follow all the same steps except instead of adding mint, add other flavors like lemon verbena, sage, spearmint, fennel seeds, or orange blossoms.

    I love the last faux pas to avoid…drinking tea alone!

  4. moroccomama February 25, 2010 at 11:17 pm #

    Thank you “Emmanuel”. You’re right, I totally forgot to add, that you have to add “the soul” back along with the mint and sugar. And the additions are good, they sort of change with the seasons. Right now it’s all about the bitter “heat inducing” herbs like sage. My fav is orange blossoms, such a lovely flavor.

  5. BrittArnhild February 27, 2010 at 9:09 am #

    Your photos are lovely.
    I live in Norway, I travel the world and I am dreaming of visiting Marrakesh some day :-)
    Found your blog through Maryam’s.

    • moroccomama March 6, 2010 at 7:01 am #

      Britt, thanks for stopping by. I hope you make to it to Marrakesh some day, it’s quite a feast for the senses.

    • Nadia May 16, 2010 at 2:07 pm #

      Britt, du mååå bare komme til Marrakech! Ta deg en tur og nyt denne byen!

      Moroccomama, I love your posts! So refreshing to read!

  6. Anca March 24, 2010 at 12:44 am #

    I love this post. I drink tea every day but I didn`t know it`s so complicated to make Morocan tea. I`ll try to do some.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. A Magical week in Marrakech « grenobloise - February 28, 2012

    [...] but being a green tea lover as well (and wanting a bit of caffeine) I was really drawn to Nora’s Moroccan Green Mint Tea with Sugar recipe (you can follow the same recipe but just leave out the green tea part for Mint Tea). I made it for [...]

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