Earlier this week, my husband and I drove through mid-Michigan mucks—historically, prime land for growing mint. In fact, at the turn of the 20th century, our state supplied 90% of the world’s supply of mint oil!*
Along with North America, this aromatic herb is native to Eurasia, southern Africa, and Australia, and since antiquity has been valued for its heady scent and invigorating flavor. Mint was tossed into baths, drunk and eaten, and used medicinally.
Mint’s MOA: Scientifically and Culturally
Menthol is the essential oil that gives mint its cooling effect. When menthol binds to receptors on sensory neurons, calcium ions move into the cells, sending a “cool” message to the brain.†
No wonder mint is so popular in the southern, sultry states of the U.S.—in the form of mint juleps—and in Morocco in northwest Africa, where sweet mint tea is embedded in the culture.
Mint, in fact, means hospitality in many regions (think “hospitality mint”!). In Morocco—with African, Arab, Berber, and European influences—the architecture emphases community, and mint tea signifies family and hospitality.
Mint Melded with Tea
Tea apparently was introduced to Morocco in the 1700s as trade between Asia, Africa, and Europe grew. By the 1800s, China green gunpowder and Young Hyson teas were being imported into the country.
Moroccan mint tea is traditionally made in a silver teapot and then poured out while holding the teapot high above the glass. This both cools and froths the tea.
The sweet brew—made of green gunpowder tea, mint leaves, and sugar—is served in beautifully decorated glasses.
While I didn’t pour my Moroccan Mint tea into a Moroccan glass, I did make sure to brew it at 194°F for 2 minutes and enjoyed it hot on this chilly morning.
This tea is also excellent iced—especially cooling on a hot, sunny day, and perfect to offer to family and friends!