When I was sharing my Morocco itinerary with friends over the last few months, one recommendation was consistently on every list: mint tea at Café Hafa in Tangier. I was already excited to try the supposedly delicious Moroccan mint tea around the country, but I knew this particular location had to be something special if I was told several times not to miss the experience.
I didn’t do any specific research on Hafa, so I really didn’t know what to expect. I was picturing a small cozy café with bright Moroccan rugs and pillows. Maybe a few small tables and tea served on a tray out of an elaborate kettle. Let’s just say that I couldn’t have envisioned it more incorrectly. We walked the ten minutes from our riad (guesthouse) in the kasbah (old fortress) and found a small archway with the name “Café Hafa Fonde 1921.”
It was 6pm on a Friday night and people were pouring in behind us. We made our way slowly down the steps to find groups of Moroccans (mostly men in their twenties and thirties) huddled around tables with plastic chairs drinking mint tea out of tall glasses. The café was outside with terraces down the cliff right on the ocean. Some tables were playing board games while others were playing music. Café Hafa was the place to be on a Friday night in Tangier…it would seem their version of a local bar.
We sat down at a table with a beautiful view of the Atlantic just as the sun dipped down. During the day, you can see Spain across the Strait of Gibraltar. I imagine the café is also quieter and you’d have the opportunity to enjoy the view more fully. It was quite cold on an evening in late December, so we were very excited for some hot tea. There didn’t seem to be a menu, but after a while we realized how it worked.
Men come around with glasses swinging from a multi-cup holder. A far cry from what I imagined. We flagged one older gentleman down and bought two. I took my first sip and winced. Wow, that was sweet. I mean absurdly sweet. It turns out Moroccan tea is made with loose green tea from China, fresh mint, and a generous amount of sugar. One glass was enough for me and although delicious, not what I was looking forward to drinking the rest of the trip.
The next day, I learned that while most Moroccans prefer the tea with lots of sugar, you can order it unsweetened with sugar on the side. It’s now been three days and not a meal goes by without sipping on a pot of the delicious tea with fresh mint. If you find yourself in Tangier, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Café Hafa with its beautiful views to taste the extra-sweet famous mint tea and experience a local favorite.