Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Moroccan Whisky

To go to Morocco and not to drink the mint tea is a crime punishable by prison. Not literally, of course, though I rather think it should be. For it is the mint tea which pumps from the heart of Morocco and flows throughout the nation from the centre to its very corners, it is the tea which carries the DNA of the country, and it is the tea which tastes really rather good.

It is easy to see why it has been affectionately dubbed “Moroccan Whisky” by the natives – it is a beautiful amber in colour, it is drunk out of shot glasses, it is the drink consumed over business deals, at family gatherings and at almost any occasion which provides the excuse for its consumption. It is also the replacement of alcohol in a largely tee-total society. Drinking large quantities of Moroccan Whisky won't stop you from driving or give you liver problems, but it will probably give you diabetes, for it is a sugary drink indeed.

Moroccans all have their own way of making the tea, but as long as the resulting beverage is minty and sweet, it doesn't matter. I obtained the recipe from a Berber elder in the Atlas Mountains above Marrakech, which I have adapted below. It was one of those moments I won't forget for a long time to come.

It is a great drink to enjoy wherever and whenever. “Traditionally you would drink three glasses before taking your leave”, writes Paula Wolfert in The Food of Morocco. “Today this rule is rarely observed, and in a Moorish cafe all rules are meaningless: you sip for hours, you talk, you read, you meditate and you enjoy.”

Moroccan Mint Tea


- 1 tbsp green tea
- 1 bunch fresh mint (8-12ish stalks)
- 70g Sugar


1) Rinse the pot with boiling water and pour away to clean it.

2) Add the green tea to the pot, plus the mint, sugar, and enough boiling water to cover the mint (roughly half a pot, no more).

3) Allow to brew for three to four minutes, give it a stir and then serve. The colour should be a deep amber, as pictured below.

Would you like sugar with that, Sir? Moroccans don't do sugar in half measures. The lumps you see here were broken down from a paper-wrapped solid cone that must have been at least a foot tall.

The village - or group of houses plus school, at least - high in the Atlas Mountains where we learned the secrets of Morocco's best-loved brew.

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