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Moroccan Mint Tea

I will bet you 30 dirhams that you cant's spend one day in Marrakech and not have at least three cups of sweet mint tea. Moroccans drink hot tea all year round and all day long. Bars and cafes are always filled with tea-sipping crowd, souq merchants offer tea to the toughest negotiators and a pot of tea prepared and served by the man of the house is a display of Moroccan hospitality.

If offered tea, it is polite to have at least three cups. The drink is poured from high above glasses to make tea nice and frothy. And to show off a little bit, too.

The drink is made with Moroccan mint and Chinese gunpowder tea. The tea-drinking tradition is younger than it might seem. Moroccans were first introduced to Chinese green tea in 1854. British merchants, frustrated with blockades resulting from Crimean War and unable to transport the wares of tea to the Baltic region, decided to start selling their chests of tea in ports of Morocco. It turned out to be a marketing success, as Moroccans had fallen in love with the tea, creating a new market for tea from the Far East.

Traditionally, the tea is served three times. Since the tea leaves are left in the pot, the taste evolves and each glass has its unique flavour. According to a Moroccan proverb, the first glass is as gentle as life, the second one is as strong as love, the third - as bitter as death.

Recipe: Moroccan mint tea

Makes 6 small glasses
Ingredients
  • 3 tsp green tea
  • 3 tsp brown sugar
  • 10 springs fresh mint
  • 4 cups water
Method
  • Place the tea in a pot. Boil the water and pour the water to the pot. Set aside for 2 minutes.
  • Stir in sugar and add mint. Set aside for 3-4 minutes.
  • Pour with the teapot a high distance above the glasses. Garnish with fresh mint.

Break time

It might sound like laundry-detergent-commercial-poetry or pearls of wisdom from the wall of a chained cafe, but coffee really is always a good idea and a steaming mug of tea will help you calm down in almost any crisis. I actually think that time stops as soon as the first drop of hot liquid hits the bottom of a china cup.

It's really important to make time for a proper break.

the orchard tea garden

A corner of England where time stands still - we read about The Orchard Tea Garden, located in Grantchester, near Cambridge. The statement seems very true. The orchard was first planted in 1868 and very little has changed since. Just like many other splendid things, the custom of having afternoon tea under the blossoming fruit trees was created purely by chance. A group of Cambridge students asked the owner of the Orchard House to serve them tea in the shade of old apple trees, rather than, as usual, on the front lawn of the House. Little did they know that on that spring morning in 1897, they had started a great Cambridge tradition. The word about rural tea in the orchard quickly spread around the colleges. One of the biggest enthusiasts of the new ritual was a poet, Robert Brooke. He soon initiated orchard meetings of the Grantchester Group, whose members were Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein. The list of personalities who had tea in the orchard include Sylvia Plath, Alan Alexander Milne, Christopher Isherwood, King George VI, Prince Charles. And me, of course. A simple recipe for a pleasant afternoon? A deckchair, a pot of hot tea (with milk, obviously), scones, jams and clotted cream - traditional Cornish thick cream. Orchard Tea Garden also serves morning coffee and light luncheons.

The Orchard Tea Garden, 45-47 Mill Will, Grantchester