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What Is Tuareg Tea?

There are many different tea varieties on the market, but one type you might not have heard of is Tuareg tea. This Moroccan delicacy is sweet, refreshing, and provides a few different health benefits too. 

Tuareg tea, also known as Maghrebi mint tea, is a type of mint-flavored green tea from Morocco. This tea was introduced by British troops in the 18th and 19th centuries in a rolled form known as gunpowder tea. Tuareg tea contains significant health benefits with regular consumption. 

Even if you haven’t heard of Tuareg tea before, you’re sure to want a cup or two after reading about where it came from and how to prepare it at home. Keep reading to learn more about Tuareg tea and how to make a cup for yourself. 

Tuareg Tea Is Maghrebi Mint Tea

Tuareg tea is more of a name for a specific preparation of green tea than for any specific tea variety. Also known as Maghrebi tea or Touareg tea, Tuareg tea is a method of preparing green tea with boiling water, spearmint leaves, and sugar. The menthol in Tuareg tea has a reputation for making people feel cooler in the hot desert climates of the Middle East. 

Where Is Tuareg Tea From?

Tuareg tea is a recipe for making green tea that originated in the Middle East. While the green tea used in Tuareg tea is imported from other parts of the world, the tea is integrated with a Moroccan mint known as ‘Nana’ mint. This Middle Eastern mint cultivar is used for preparing tea as well as cooking in several savory dishes, such as lamb. 

Tuareg tea is traditionally brewed in the following areas: 

  • Morocco
  • Algeria
  • Libya
  • Tunisia
  • Egypt

Tea can’t be grown in most of these regions, despite its immense popularity there. So how did Tuareg tea become popular across northern Africa?

Tuareg tea is Maghrebi mint tea

How Did Morocco Get Tuareg Tea? 

Tuareg tea first came about because tea was introduced to northern Africa by British troops during colonial encampments and war movements in the 17th and 18th centuries. Carrying their tea rations with them in a form known as “gunpowder tea,” these tea rations were mixed by the locals with mint and sugar to create a sweet and refreshing drink to sustain them in the heat. 

Tea was especially embraced by the Tuareg people, a subset of Berber nomads in Morocco. Because they are nomadic people that move across northern Africa, the Tuareg tea ceremony also spread quickly among the traveling people of these regions. 

How Is Tuareg Tea Grown?

Since Tuareg is a tea preparation, not a tea cultivar, it isn’t actually grown in Africa. Instead, the Tuareg tea ceremony involves the use of green tea. The Tuareg prefer to use green tea from China due to its sharp, intense flavor. This tea is grown in the rural western provinces of China before being processed and imported to northern Africa for Tuareg-style preparation. 

Is Tuareg Tea Expensive?

Tuareg tea is not particularly expensive since it isn’t specialized green tea such as gyokuro. If you grow your own spearmint at home, creating a fresh pot of Tuareg tea is no more expensive than your average pot of green tea. The only additional cost is the cost of sugar added.

Qualities of Tuareg Tea

There are a few qualities of Tuareg tea that set it apart from other varieties and preparations of green tea. Here are just a few of the traits that make Tuareg tea special: 

  • Color: Tuareg tea is typically served in a clear glass so that the bright yellowish color of the tea can be seen. Because it is diluted with mint, it can be somewhat less green than other green tea preparations. Tuareg tea should be translucent, not murky.
  • Flavor: Tuareg tea is known for its bright, bracing spearmint flavor. Moroccan mint is typically used, but other mint varieties can be substituted if Moroccan mint isn’t available.
  • Preparation: Like green tea in Japanese tea rituals, the preparation of Tuareg tea is a long, involved process with a ceremonial value. Tuareg tea is prepared in three rounds to welcome guests, and is also used to mark afternoon rest periods and meals. Tuareg tea is also usually poured from a tall height to produce a foamy head called a mousse. 

Starting to sound delicious? Below you’ll find out exactly how to make your own pot of Tuareg tea.

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man pouring Tuareg tea from height

How to Brew Tuareg Tea

Even though the process of brewing Tuareg tea is very meticulous in Tuareg society, it’s easy enough to reproduce this recipe for home use. Here are the ingredients you need to get started brewing a pot of Tuareg-style tea: 

  • 4 teaspoons gunpowder green tea (use other green tea varieties to substitute)
  • 4 cups water
  • 40-50 fresh spearmint leaves (Nana mint or some other spearmint variety is best)
  • 4 tablespoons sugar

Once you have the ingredients for the Tuareg tea together, the first step is to muddle the mint and place it in a pan, then pour the water over it. Heat this mixture of mint and water together until the water is boiling.

Mix together the green tea and sugar in a heat-proof pitcher. After the mint solution is boiling, take it off the heat and pour it in the pitcher so that the tea can steep in the hot mint water. 

The tea should be steeped for five minutes. After steeping, pour the pitcher of tea through a strainer to remove any loose tea and serve hot. 

Health Benefits of Tuareg Tea

Tuareg tea has many health benefits if you drink it every day despite the fact that it incorporates sugar. The other major ingredients of Tuareg tea, green tea and mint, have several recorded medicinal qualities. These are a few of the health benefits associated with them: 

  • Digestive benefits: Green tea and mint are both considered to be good for digestive health since they reduce inflammation and excess gas. Green tea is also associated with stabilizing blood sugar levels, making it easier for people to prevent chronic metabolic diseases such as diabetes.
  • Antioxidants: Green tea and mint contain antioxidant polyphenols and catechins that reduce free radicals in the body. This can help prevent many types of chronic and life-threatening illness such as cancer, stroke, and heart attack.
  • Vitamin intake: Green tea and spearmint are both full of vital nutrients and essential minerals such as Vitamin A, iron, manganese, and folate. 

Regular consumption of Tuareg tea can be good for your health, but be aware that the addition of sugar can counteract some of the health benefits of the tea. To make it healthier, reduce the amount of sugar used or eliminate it altogether.  

Tuareg Tea Is a Middle Eastern Tradition

Even though the concept of mint tea isn’t as popular abroad as it is in northern Africa, this refreshing mint tea has been a part of Moroccan hospitality for centuries. Try to make a pot for yourself and see what all the fuss is about! 

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