Taste of Arabia: mint tea


Image by pure9 via Flickr

While English tea is traditionally served by Mother in an earthenware pot, apparently Arab mint tea is traditionally served by Father in a metal pot. See the picture for the best sort of teapot to use for this: an elegant (often decorated) affair with a long curving spout. It takes quite a bit of practice to get the flourish as you pour it just right; the idea being to get a nice frothy head on the drink.

Although tea was introduced to the area by the British, this is a traditional North African drink that’s highly refreshing and much appreciated on those hot, muggy summer days. It’s best served with sticky, honeyed pastries that do wonderful things to your palate and terrible, terrible things to your waistline.

Ingredients for 4 persons:

  • 3 tsp green tea, e.g. Green Gunpowder or similar brand
  • 2 x 4″ sprigs fresh mint
  • Sugar to taste, usually 8-10 tsp (or equivalent in sugar substitute)

You’ll have to juggle a bit with the quantities to find what suits you best. Bear in mind that the mint gives a refreshing flavour but also makes the tea more bitter, so the more mint you use, the more sugar or sugar substitute you’ll need.

Method: put all the ingredients into a warmed teapot and pour boiling water on them. Leave to infuse. Stir. You can check that the tea is properly infused by pouring out a glass or two and then pouring them directly back into the pot. This is in fact not only acceptable but actively encouraged: it “airs” the tea and puts a nice frothy head on it.

Serve with panache in small decorated glasses.

If you’re sitting in a tent while drinking this, you can pretend to be Touaregs. Or reclining on silken cushions in the Kasbah, or anything else that takes your romantic fancy.


Go on, bother me. You know you want to.

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