Morocco: Where tea was a man’s job

The Moroccan people take their tea and tea drinking rituals seriously. But did you know that in earlier times tea was so precious that only rich and powerful men could drink the beverage?

And while it was exclusively men who drank the tea, they were also the only ones who served it to their guests.

Intrigued? Enjoy a little flashback to this centuries-old tea ritual.

Who’s the man?

There was strict protocol in place for the preparation and serving of tea at family gatherings and special occasions in Morocco. And it started only once the guests arrived.

The host would appoint one of the guests to prepare tea. The selection was generally a well-thought decision. The “tea man” or “chef of tea” couldn’t be a random person from the group. What’s more, since the tea preparation was a crucial job, it couldn’t be left to just anyone. The “chef of tea” had to perform several tasks to perfection. These took time and effort, and could not be hurried.

Thus the host appointed a man who was respected and of good repute in the community (and was perhaps known for his tea skills!).

Before the brewing

The tea man would get to work by first washing the metallic tea pot with hot water and some tea leaves. Next, he would add the required amount of tea and sugar to the pot, some mint leaves, then pour in boiled water. To brew the tea, the man would place the tea pot over a low flame.

Preparing to serve

While the tea brewed, the man would prepare a tray to serve the tea. There would be small glass cups (very different from the tea cups with handles used by the English), and sometimes a white embroidered cloth to cover them. When the tea was ready, the man poured the tea from high up to create the right bit of frothiness or bubbles in each glass.

The intricacies of pouring

In most households, the tea man poured the tea back and forth between the tea pot and glass. This supposedly helped release the flavours and the right colour. It also helped the sugar dissolve (no tea spoons used!).

And… ready!

Once the tea man was certain that the tea was perfectly brewed, he poured it into individual glasses for the guests.