Tea, translating to çay; pronounced “chai” in Turkish, is a more common drink among Turks than coffee. Even though a lot of people associate Turkish coffee with Turkey, you might think their coffee drinkers, but they’re not. Turks are actually the #1 consumers of tea in the world.
After the Ottoman empire fell and the new Republic of Turkey took shape, Atatürk (the nation’s founder) encouraged tea as an alternative to Turkish coffee. Looking for a cheaper alternative to coffee since it was too expensive to import and consume, the solution turned to tea. Rize, located on the Eastern side of Turkey on the Black Sea coast was perfect for tea cultivation – fertile soil, mild climate and high precipitation. The first tea plantations started in the 1920’s and today Rize has made Turkey one of the top 10 tea producing nations in the world.
HOW TO MAKE
Generally tasting like English Breakfast Tea or Early Grey, Turkish tea is a black tea that’s always served with sugar (and never consumed with milk). It’s prepared using two stacked kettles: water is brought to boil in the lower, larger kettle and then water is used to fill the smaller kettle on top to steep (brew) the tea. When served, the remaining water (in the lower kettle) is used to dilute the (strongly brewed) tea. Tea is traditionally and typically served in small tulip-shaped glasses which are to be held by the rim to avoid burning fingertips. Oh yeah, it’s also served boiling hot.
DRINKING TURKISH TEA
Tea is an important part of Turkish culture and is the most commonly consumed hot drink (in Turkey). It’s served at breakfast, after meals, between meals and is also a BIG part of Turkish hospitality. Whether arriving somewhere, shopping in a store, or even setting up your new phone at Turkcell – everywhere you go, you’ll be offered tea.
Drinking tea is a popular social activity in Turkey, for people old and young. Whether talking, smoking nargile (hookah) or playing backgammon. Tea houses and gardens are located all over the city and typically ranging from 1 to 3 TL.
Usually, you’re more than welcome to bring outside food to enjoy with your tea. We purchased some Turkish Delight around the corner and sat at a tea house to enjoy with our sweet treat.