Good Reading : March 2005
goodreading 47 Mint Tea From Fès to Rabat, or in nomads’ tents, served at any hour of the day, mint tea unites men sitting on café terraces or women at the hammam (Turkish Bath), or is used to clinch a business transaction or to welcome a visitor. The tea ritual requires two trays. One tray holds the small straight glasses made of Saint- Louis crystal or simple glassware and the traditional electro-plated teapot with a long spout and pointed lid. The other tray holds silver boxes containing sugar, green tea and fresh mint. The water is boiled in a copper samovar. Into the scalded and rinsed teapot, the host places tea leaves, the neatly tied bunch of mint and large chunks of sugar, before pouring on the boiling water and allow- ing the tea to steep. Poured into a glass and poured back into the teapot several times to make sure that it is well blended, then sam- pled, the tea will not be offered to guests until the host considers it to be perfect. Only then, with a flowing and precise gesture, will the host raise the teapot on high above the glasses and commence pouring the aromatic tea, in long, piping-hot streams. Majoram, aniseed, saffron, rosemary or orange-flower water may be added to complete the subtle flavour of mint tea. Toasted almonds are added to crushed Arabic gum and sugared egg to create the delicious Moroccan nougat known as Jarbane. Whole bunches of fresh mint are steeped in the teapot. Loaf sugar, wrapped in mauve paper, is sold in cone shapes. The sugar is broken into pieces using a small copper or wooden hammer and arranged on top of the mint to prevent the leaves rising to the surface. The Berber women weave wool according to age-old techniques. The wool is then used to make warm blankets, soft rugs, jelabas (traditional woollen tunics) and winter cloaks.