Tag Archives: Morocco

{ Moroccan Mint Tea & Kendall’s Bikini-Body Elixir }

Over the past year and a half, I have spent more time living in hostels than my own home. And for those of your familiar with backpacking culture, you know that means a lot of free “bread and butter” breakfasts with bottomless cups of instant coffee. But hostels aiming to achieve a more “boutique feel” (a.k.a. a 5 star review on HostelWorld) use breakfast time as an opportunity to distinguish themselves by offering an occasional egg, crepe, and/or specialty beverage, which I shall refer to as the national elixir. By my third destination, I quickly realized that every country has their own sort of elixir—a natural liquid remedy (often taking the form of tea) intended to solve the problems that hostel owner’s perceive travelers may experience while visiting their country.

For example:

  •   In Portugal, we were served hot water that had been boiled with fresh lemon peels, which was intended to reduce the bloat and swelling from a late night out in Lisbon. Kudos to Portugal for creating a successful remedy that shrunk my belly and my hangover headache.
  • In Peru, it was mugs of hot water steeped with coca leaves to help combat the altitude sickness. I drank this stuff around the clock and still struggled to carry my own body weight around, but I like to think it helped.
  • In Colombia, they served us every kind of tropical fruit juice you could possibly imagine (my favorite being the coconut-lime combination). I don’t think it’s supposed to “cure” anything though, because there aren’t too many ailments one can suffer while on the beautiful beaches of Colombia!
  • In Spain, I was still drinking Sangria around breakfast time so lets just say that’s the national elixir.

And lastly, there is Morocco, which is rather well-known for it’s Moroccan Mint Tea! Although after visiting, I am convinced they just drink so much of it because the regular tap water is unsafe. I mean, why not boil out the bacteria and add some mint and sugar to disguise the funny taste, right?! Anyways, I loved it! In fact, I loved it so much that I have continued to make it on a daily basis since my return home.

And, in addition to their beautiful aroma and flavor, mint leaves also have incredible health benefits (which Dr. Oz touched on in his tv show that aired yesterday: http://watchingdroz.blogspot.com/2012/05/watching-dr-oz-51412-swimsuit-slimdown.html). Some of the key benefits of the leafy green are:

  • Helps stimulate bile production, which helps you digest fat better
  • Soothes the stomach in cases of indigestion and inflammation
  • Relieves nausea and headaches
  • Helps with respiratory disorders, coughs, and asthma
  • Helps eliminate toxins from the bloodstream

Traditional Moroccan mint tea (as I was shown to prepare by an indigenous Berber woman), has a little too much sugar to be consumed on a regular basis so I have modified the recipe to enjoy it more frequently. I will provide both recipes though, and you can choose which to make! I will say that my modified version is great for reducing bloat, which is very helpful with swimsuit season upon us!

{ Traditional Moroccan Mint Tea }

Boil out 3-4 cups of water, and pour over green tea leaves in a teapot (you can also use tea bags if you don’t have loose leaf tea available).

Immediately add about 15-20 fresh mint leaves and stir in 3-4 tablespoons of sugar.

Mix with spoon to combine and cover with lid. Allow the tea to steep for 5 minutes.

To ensure proper mixing of the ingredients, fill each of the glasses with tea and then return liquid to the pot (this prevents the sugar from settling at the bottom of the pot!).

Then pour a glade for each person, holding the teapot from a very high point (this helps the liquid to cool as it fills the glass).

Then sip and enjoy!

{ Kendall’s Bikini Slim Down Elixir }

Boil out 3 cups of water and pour over 3 green tea bags in a ceramic teapot. I like to use Chinese Green Tea from the Asian Market (Assi Market located in North Wales is great for those of you who live in Bucks County!)

Immediately add 10-15 fresh mint leaves, which I like to get straight from the garden!

Then add 1 tablespoon of agave nectar or honey to the pot and stir.

Cover pot with lid and allow to steep for 5 minutes. Garnish a glade with a sprig of mint, pour, and enjoy.

NOTE: If you don’t finish the whole pot of tea, put the leftover in the refrigerator and enjoy it chilled the following day. It makes a delicious and refreshing iced tea too!

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{ High Tea in Tangier, Morocco }

When I told my parents—or anyone, for that matter—that I was going to be traveling to Morocco, they all had the same reaction, asking questions like; but why do you want to go there? Don’t you know how dangerous it is? Wasn’t a bomb recently set off in a café there? I would then negate their concerns with my own questions; haven’t you ever wanted to take a camel ride through the dessert? Or sit on decorative floor pillows and smoke hookah while sipping tea and listening to gypsy music?  Haven’t you ever seen the Sex & The City movie where they go to Morocco? If its safe enough for Carrie, then its safe enough for me! (and yes, I actually referenced Sex & The City to validate the safety of Morocco).

Bottom line: nobody could talk me out of going to Morocco, and I was genuinely excited for the adventure. I’m always reading about celebrities that go to Casablanca and Marrakech, living up the lifestyles of the rich and famous. But as our ferry from the South of Spain pulled into the port of Tangiers, Ariana and I realized that our idea of Morocco might have been a little falsely shaped by Hollywood. And once we made our way off the ferry, we concluded that Morocco might be safe for a celebrity with a bodyguard, but is definitely not the place for 21 year-old girls…on a budget, none-the-less! You really can’t try to cut corners with money when the safety of your life is at stake.

Anyways, there we were at the port with all of our luggage (the only people mind you, because we took a car ferry and everyone else drove away when it docked…like you’re supposed to do) and we had not the slightest idea where to go. We couldn’t speak the language and there was no map or information desk—welcome to Africa! I was starting to have a kniption when I remembered reading somewhere that Jimi Hendrix used to write a lot of his music at a place in Tangiers called Café Hafa. Naturally, that was our next destination.

I don’t think that much has changed at Café Hafa since the days when Mr. Hendrix was there (except you can’t smoke Hashesh at the café now…you need to “hashesh before,” as the owner put it), but the place has the most incredible view overlooking the Strait of Gibralter.

The café is a series of terraces stacked down the side of a mountain (all outside), with various green picnic tables and mismatched rusty chairs. They serve one or two types of food and a variety of beverages, including the infamous Moroccan Mint Tea. Café Hafa was my first tea experience in Morocco, but certainly not my last. I think that the tea is so popular out of necessity, given that the water is unsafe to drink. Why not boil out the bacteria, add some mint and sugar, and drink it that way? It’s a delicious and safer alterative to plain unsanitary water!

Ariana and I were too afraid to leave the café and step into the crowded city streets with all of our stuff, so we spent the following seven hours at Café Hafa journaling, reading, listening to music, and taking in the views. Then we used our Spanish to communicate with another couple sitting nearby, who eventually offered us a ride (in a school bus for some reason) to the train station where we hoped on the overnight train to Marrakech.

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