Ceremonious rituals have always been sacred to me. The Moroccan tea ceremony—begun in the 18th century—conjures memories of a trip to Marrakesh many year ago. Evenings were spent on the rooftop of our Riad as sundown prayers echoed through the city. It was unlike anything I had experienced, a deeply spiritual hummm vibrated throughout my entire being, and to this day sipping on Moroccan mint tea reminds me of the powerful emotion that overcame me. Mint tea itself is central to Moroccan life and a national drink. If you visit a souk or someone’s home, it is customary for them to prepare it in your honor. I can recall many encounters in the markets, as we sought out Berber rugs, where we sipped on tea together with the shop owner prior to negotiating any prices. It lent a nice touch to an occasionally tense process – no business deal can be closed in Moroccao without a cup of this emblematic tea.
The Moroccan tea ceremony that we created at The Secret Souk in NYC was not quite as mystical, void of the haunting prayers or the unusual negotiations. But it was still rooted in ritual, and beautifully transportative. I was taken aback by how detailed the preparation (known as Atai) was and I was honored to once again experience its ceremony in this beautiful soho loft space that Jasmine Hamed and Nicole Francesca Manfron transformed into a moroccan marketplace. Boiling water is poured over fresh spearmint, dried tea leaves, and sugar in a silver pot and then poured slowly into ornate and fragile glasses. As is tradition, the pouring was done from a height of twelve or so inches. The sweet fragrance is immediately detectable as the scent of fresh mint fills the air. During my time in Medina, an invitation to help make the tea was quite flattering, and I felt that once more when invited to take part at The Secret Souk.
Taking part in the ceremony again was therapeutic—I left feeling relaxed and inspired to cherish the little things, like tea, with more enthusiasm. Regarding the slow process involved, Moroccans can be heard saying, “Inshas Allah,” or “God willing, all good things come with time.” It’s a great reminder to slow down and relax, to be patient, and to really look at the world around you.