Moroccan mint tea
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Moroccan mint tea, also called Tuareg tea, or Mint tea or Maghrebi mint tea, is a flavoured tea prepared in Arabian countries, France, Islamic Africa and Spain. Mint tea (in Arabic, شاي بالنعناع, shāy bil n'anā', or more commonly, in dialect, الأتاي, at tay) is central to social life in Maghreb countries. The serving of mint tea can take a ceremonial form, especially when prepared for a guest. Traditionally whereas cooking is women's business, the tea is a male affair: the head of family prepares it and serves to the guest, usually, at least three glasses of tea. The beverage has a refreshing aroma, and its consumption produces a sensation of cold in the mouth and respiratory tract.
The cultivar Mentha spicata 'Nana', the Nana mint of Maghreb, possesses a clear, pungent, but mild aroma and is an essential ingredient of Touareg Tea. Due to the long relationship of Spain and France with Maghreb, the beverage soon went to these countries, where it is used as a cold soft drink (Iced tea) in warm areas in summer time. Spearmint is an ingredient in several related drinks, such as the mojito and mint julep. Due to its Moroccan origin it is named in Hispanic countries té moruno but is named too: té con hierbabuena and té a la menta related to Mentha spicata and many other hybrids and cultivars of Mentha named indistinctly Yerba buena. Sweet tea, iced and flavored with spearmint, is a summer tradition in the Southern United States. The oldest known recipe for sweet iced tea was published in 1879 in a community cookbook called Housekeeping in Old Virginia by Marion Cabell Tyree, who was born in Texas. The recipe called for green tea since most sweet tea consumed during this period was green tea.
The related Peppermint tea, sometimes called mint tea is an infusion of peppermint, (Mentha piperita) naturally caffeine-free. A tea made from blending peppermint and spearmint leaves is referred to as doublemint tea.
Preparation takes green tea (usually strong Chinese tea, e.g. gunpowder, chun mee, or zhu cha), fresh mint leaves in large quantity, and sugar (approximately five teaspoons of sugar for one teaspoon of tea leaves). The tea is first put in the teapot and a small quantity of boiling water is added, the tea is left to infuse for a short time (approximately 20–30 seconds), this initial liquid is poured out and kept aside. This is the "spirit" of the tea and will be added back after the tea is washed, in order to restore the "spirit" to the tea (the "spirit" of the tea is essentially a strong, deeply flavoured liquid from the initial infusion, which adds extra flavour to the final infusion). The tea is then "cleaned" by adding a small quantity of boiling water, that is poured out after one minute (this lessens the bitterness of the tea), this process may be repeated more than once. Mint and sugar are added, and water at the boiling point is then poured in the pot, the pot may then be taken to heat and further boiled to increase the flavour of the infusion. After three to five minutes, a glass is served and poured back in the pot two to three times, in order to mix the tea. Tea is then tasted (sugar if needed may be added) until the infusion is fully developed. Tea is poured into glasses from height in order to swirl loose tea leaves to the bottom of the glass, whilst gently aerating the tea to improve its flavour.
Several alternative preparation procedures exist, with different brewing times for tea and for mint. Touareg is sometimes sold as a ready-to-cook mixture of tea and dried mint, which is easier to store and to prepare, but with flatter taste.