Review: JING Tea Moroccan Mint

Green Tea, Gunpowder Tea, JING Tea, Mint Tea Add comments
Lynn’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"This is the tea of hospitality across much of Africa and into parts of the middle east. "
Lynn’s Teaview: 9/10
Other Teaviews: Geoff gave it 9/10, Dan gave it 7.0/10, Laura gave it 8.5/10
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jinmorrocanmintMoroccan mint teas, or atai, have a very interesting history. It's believed that it was first made in Morocco in the 18th century, when Chinese green tea was introduced through trade between the Maghreb and Europe. Sultan Moulay Ismail received many bags of tea and sugar as gifts and also as ransom to release European prisoners.

It soon became the drink of hospitality, however, offered to family and guest alike, steeped for long periods of time and sweetened with sugar. The form familiar in the West is always made with a blend of green tea, usually gunpowder, and mint. Traditionally, it is also made with bitter wormwood when mint is out of season. Lemon verbena is also added sometimes of a lemony zing. A traditional recipe for real Moroccan-style atai is as follows:

Start with two teaspoons of dry tea to 500ml of boiling water and let steep in a teapot for a minimum of 15 minuets. Pour the tea off into a stainless steel saucepan, add 6 teaspoons of sugar and boil over medium heat to caramelize the sugar and give the finished tea its distinctive taste.

This is the tea of hospitality across much of Africa and into parts of the middle east. Greg Mortenson, in his book Three Cups of Tea, talks of drinking gallons of it served to him by everyone he met in northern Pakistan. According to custom, after you've shared three cups of tea with someone, you are friends.

I decided to begin by following JING's directions, however, to get a feel for the tea. My sample contained a generous mix of shiny little dark olive nuggets of gunpowder green tea from China's eastern Zhejiang province and large, whole dark green dried mint leaves. The aroma was a heady blend of the two, weighted more to the mint end of the scale, and very sweet.

I steeped two teaspoons of dry tea in one cup of 175F water for three minutes, as directed. The resulting liquor, which had the light green-gold color of virgin olive oil, had a wonderful, sweet, minty fragrance, though there was no real sign of the tea, yet. But it was there in my first sip, astringent and woody, slightly bitter and a little sharp, blending well with the strong mint flavor. It had some pull, leaving my tongue feeling dry, and a little bit of a tingle, too. It was so tasty, in fact, that I just had to try it Moroccan-style. I prepared it as given above, then went back to my first pot to try a second infusion. The tea and mint leaves were unfurled into a large olive green mat at the bottom of the pot and still smelled nicely of mint. The tea leaves were long and broad. I did a three-minute infusion, which gave up a cup very similar to the first—in other words, tremendously good! My impression was that both the tea and the mint are very high quality.

Meanwhile, my Moroccan batch was ready to go into the saucepan. I added the sugar and brought it to a boil over a medium flame. I didn't have the requisite fancy silver or brass teapot or little colored glasses decorated with gold, so I made do and poured myself a mug from the pan. It was a little darker than the other style and not as fragrant, possibly because some of the mint oil had cooked off. Flavor-wise, it was sweet, of course, with an astringent, minty feel and nice body, courtesy of the tea. It was only a little bitter in the finish, but hardly enough to speak of. According to my online sources, the tea is usually brewed three times, as spoken of in this proverb:
Traditionally the tea is served three times, and the amount of time the tea has been steeping gives each of the three glasses of tea a unique flavor, described in this Moroccan proverb:

The first glass is as bitter as life,
the second glass is as strong as love,
the third glass is as gentle as death.

I can happily give this tea high marks on quality, flavor, and durability. It is also Fair Trade and organic. I'd drink three cups of this for friendship any day.

— To purchase JING Tea Moroccan Mint, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Lynn Lynn Reviewer
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