Mint tea is something I enjoy everyday, usually in the afternoon as an uplifting brew and sometimes, after dinner as a “digestif”. The refreshing taste of mint makes it the perfect herbal choice for this time of year, after over-indulging on rich food, and for anyone looking to make healthier choices for the new year.
I’ve been to Morocco a couple of times and loved the experience. I brought back the tea-set above from my first trip almost 30 years ago. The country’s cuisine is one of my favourites. If you have mint tea made by the locals, it is served piping hot and mouth-tinglingly sweet, which seems utterly contradictory when the air temperature is so warm, but it seems to work and, the restorative powers of a glass or two are amazing.
Moroccan mint tea is made with green or Indian tea and loads of fresh mint. I prefer white tea as I find it has softer tannins. If you don’t want the caffeine hit, you can make the jellies using a couple of peppermint infusion sachets or bags, but do add the fresh mint as well for the extra fresh flavour. I have reduced the sugar to keep it healthy, but you don’t have to add it at all. The recipe can be also be made using traditional gelatine if preferred – 4 leaves would be sufficient.
Makes: 4 small glasses
- 2 white, green or Indian tea bags
- A good handful or a small bunch of fresh mint, washed and shaken dry
- 1 sachet Vege-Gel (I use Dr Oetker)
- 60ml sugar syrup – see below
- Put the tea bags in a heatproof jug with all but 4 sprigs of mint. Add freshly boiled water to the 350ml level on the jug and leave to steep for 5 minutes. Strain the tea into another jug without squeezing the tea bags, and leave to one side. Meanwhile, put a mint sprig into each of 4 x 125ml tea glasses or heatproof dishes.
- Pour 200ml cold water into a bowl and sprinkle over the Vege-Gel. Stir well until dissolved. Transfer to a small saucepan and heat, stirring, until just boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the mint tea and sugar syrup.
- Leave the tea jelly mixture to cool for 20-30 minutes before pouring into the glasses to cover the mint – this will help stop the mint sprigs discoloring. You need to work with the jelly mix whilst it is still warm – it sets quite quickly as it cools. Leave to cool completely, then chill for at least 1 hour before serving. If you are making a real tea-based jelly, it will turn slightly cloudy no matter what setting agent you use. Herbal tea bags will give a clearer set.
To make your own sugar syrup: put 350g granulated sugar in a saucepan and over pour over 600ml water. Heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and bring to the boil, then simmer without stirring for 10 minutes. Leave to cool. This syrup stores well in a cool place – just pour into a bottle and seal. It is a useful base for adding to ice creams, sorbets, fruit salad syrups and of course, cocktails!