Ever since last New Years Eve when my uncle-in-law, Brahim, prepared his special Moroccan tea, desert style (plenty of sugar, but no mint), I have been hooked. As a matter of fact, I much prefer this to the type of tea, which is actually much easier to prepare, than the more well know one with mint. All you need is gunpowder tea (a type of green tea imported by Moroccans from China), loads of sugar and a good dentist.
Another nice thing about Moroccan tea is that you get to serve it with fanfare from an elegant teapot into colorful glass cups. One of the problems, though, with a Moroccan tea set is that the pot can get too hot pour. Thus, the typical solution is to buy a cloth sleeve to go over the handle which you can readily find in the medina. Beware, this has its own pitfall.
Now one of my basic rules of blogging and tweeting is that I try as best as I can to stick to only criticizing my own country and society (of which I include Spain where I pay my taxes and have lived for more than a decade). Thus, please don’t take what I will say now as a critique but rather as a simply observation:
In Moroccan culture, the archetypical depiction of being served tea is that it is being served by a black (Moroccan) man. I can’t say much about racism or the racial breakdown of the present Moroccan population. Moroccans tend to be Arab, Berber (hailing from one of three different Berber groups), sub-Saharan African, or any mixture of all of these. My understanding is that black Moroccans’ ancestors would have come to Morocco as slaves and served either the royalty or very wealthy families; though I imagine that many of the black people in Morocco today have roots in more contemporary immigration. Needless to say, slavery was officially banned in Moroccan with the arrival of the French in 1916, though I have no idea when it ended in practical terms.
In any event, black Moroccans were then associated with the Royal Palace where they lived and served. One of the ways this has translated into popular culture is that on television and in upscale restaurants, you’ll always see that the man serving the tea (in ceremonial cap and fez) is black. Not only that, almost every tea pot holder you find — including the one I use — will be fashioned as a black man pouring your tea. In my country, that would be just so wrong.
I love my Moroccan tea, which I limit to weekends; though as an American I do feel a little ashamed of myself each time I pour a glass.