HERITAGE When the tradition of tea first arrived in Morocco, it was sealed forever as a daily ritual, with the sweet and subtly bitter leaves that came from the mountains of Yunnan. The museum of Essaouira will, this year, open an exhibition specially dedicated to tea culture in Morocco, one that has been around in the Kingdom since the 18th century, when tea first arrived in the port of Essaouira.
From the 25th of November 2013 to 15th July 2014, the museum Mohammed Ben Abdellah in Essaouira, will host an exhibition entitled "Tea, a shared culture between Morocco and China", launched by the Ministry of Moroccan Culture, Administration of Chinese Cultural Heritage and Essaouira Mogador Association, in the presence of Mr. Andre Azoulay. On this occasion, the of advisor of King Mohammed VI said that "Tea arrived to the shores of Essaouira in the 18th century and has since been a ritual in the homes of Essaouira." The exhibition tells the story of the ceremonial aspects of the tea ritual and the ties Morocco has shared with China for three centuries, making it the second largest consumer of tea in the world.
The War on Tea
From the 17th century, during the reign of Sultan Moulay Ismail, tea consumption was subject to a ceremony worthu of the highest honours at the Palace. The ritual was allocated to this called "Moul atay" the man in charge of the ceremony and the service of the prestigious beverage . In the 1850s, while the Crimean War prohibited the East India Company to access the Baltic countries, the merchants were forced to sell their goods outside of Europe, closer to Gibralter , Mogador (Essaouira) and Tangier, welcomec the ships and their valuable goods, So begins the story of Essaouira's part in the beloved tea tradition and the history that united the Kingdom of Morocco with tea culture.
China and Morocco: the tea symbol of friendship
The upcoming opening of a national tea museum in Essaouira (second of its kind in the world only by its size) will permanently anchor the partnership between the two countries, the current exhibition will re-tell the history and customs issues related to tea consumption in Morocco. Strongly linked to Moroccan hospitality, tea contributes to the warmth of Moroccans and their traditions.
Text and Photo Alice Joundi
Translation Karen Athwal