Last week, I took a break from espresso and headed to Morocco, where I drank copious amounts of mint tea instead. Invigorating and sweet, I was hooked instantly. Tea is a serious affair in Morocco, and as a symbol of hospitality and tradition the ingredients have to be just right. They start with Chinese gunpowder green tea, “gunpowder” referring to the pellets of compressed, dried tea leaves. The more tightly compressed, the better the tea. Handfuls of fresh spearmint are added in the last few minutes of brewing, followed by several cubes of sugar. (For better flavor and Moroccan authenticity, wash the tea leaves and the mint first). Purists leave it at this, though others add lemon, verbena, sheba or other herbs.
Green tea, mint, sugar. A perfect combination any time of day. My favorite part? The ornate silver teapots.
As the weather cools in Rome I’ll be daydreaming about a Moroccan getaway, drinking mint tea in a riad overlooking exotic cities, but for now, I’m happy to be back. In the end, nothing can replace coffee, and when it comes to taste and caffeine consumption, Italians do it best.
*Thanks to Livia Hengel for the photo!