Tea is everywhere in this country, cafes, homes and even street corners. It is referred to as Berber Whiskey by some and given to children as soon as they can hold a glass.
It is symbolic of hospitality and friendship, for the act of sitting down and sharing or accepting a cup of tea represents welcome and acceptance or in some cases even the beginning of the bargaining process with merchants. A very traditional and civilized way to come to an acceptable price though be warned that if you do accept, it is taken that you are serious about purchasing !
Tea is served at least 3 or 4 times a day. In Berber households it is prepared for anyone that stops in for a visit where everyone will come and say hello and catch up on the news the visitor brings.
It is used as a welcoming gesture in households and hotels from the smallest Riad to 5 star resorts.
Moroccans are renowned for elevating this standard of hospitality to an exceptional level. As such even new acquaintances and unexpected guests will be encouraged to drink glass after glass of tea (to avoid offending the host, it’s wise to oblige) and then pressed to stay on for a full meal.
Although making tea in the west is simple enough, in Morocco the process is more involved. The tea is usually prepared in the kitchens but on special occasions or for special guests this takes on a level of ceremony as it is prepared in front of everyone by the host or hostess.
The service starts with everything prepared in front of the hostess, the tray with the silver pot, the ornate tea glasses, the decorative boxes containing the tea and sugar and the boiling water. The host or hostess (all men here are taught how to prepare tea properly) rinses the pot with boiling water then adds the tea leaves, which are rinsed again and the water discarded. Next fresh water is added and the sugar (VERY LARGE QUANTITIES). Fresh mint leaves or other herbs such as Verbena are added and the tea is left to steep for just a few minutes. It is then poured from a height of about 12inchs(30cm) into the small tea glass and returned to the pot. This is done 3 times before it is sampled by the host to verify sweetness and that it is well blended. All the glasses are filled and passed around with cookies, nuts and small pastries.
The first glass is quite strong but as the pot is refilled with water and even more sugar, the fragrant mint and heavy sweetness of the second glass is what has gained fame within and outside of Morocco.
So lounge back against your cushions whether you are on an elaborate couch, a carpet on the floor or under the shade of a woven camel hair tent, relax and enjoy your tea !!!