Historians differ as to when they think tea was introduced to Moroccan culture. Although some say it may have been as early as the 12th century, others claim that it was only as recently as the 18th century. If the latter is correct, Moroccans were quick to embrace tea drinking as a norm of their own, resulting in Morocco's current standing as one of the top importers of tea worldwide.
Today, Morocco's famous mint tea – green tea steeped with lots of spearmint – has become symbolic not only of Moroccan cuisine, but also of Moroccan hospitality and culture. Many families serve the markedly sweet beverage several times a day with or without food, and both drop-in and invited company can expect to be offered tea as a welcoming gesture. While the Moroccan tradition of honoring the guest may be rooted in Islamic etiquette, Moroccans are renowned for elevating that 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 tea making in the West is usually simple enough, in Morocco the process is a bit more involved. The following pages show how the tea is typically prepared behind the scenes in Moroccan kitchens. A more complex, ceremonial method of preparing tea in front of guests is employed less frequently, most notably at formal, special occasions.