The Art of Mint Tea

Moroccans savor mint tea the way the French sip wine: They drink it at cafes at any time of day and offer it to guests the moment they enter. We drank a lot of mint tea in Marrakech, but we didn't know what was actually in it until we visited our friend Lalla Koute and followed her into her kitchen, where she showed us how to make this sweet delight. First, she filled a silver teapot half full with boiling water, swirled it around to rinse and warm the pot, and poured it out. Then, to serve 4, she spooned 2 tbsp. Chinese gunpowder tea (aha!) into the pot and added 2 handfuls of fresh spearmint leaves. Putting the silver pot right on the stove for a minute, she added 3 big lumps of sugar (about 1/3 cup) and filled the pot with boiling water. Then she tucked a mint sprig into the spout. Koute carried the pot on a tray, with homemade sweets, into her courtyard. Twice, she poured the tea into a glass, then back into the pot—to check its strength and to mix it. Finally, she served it in ornate tea glasses.