Turkish Tea is black tea consumed without milk, and is produced on the eastern coast of the Black Sea. Whatever you do and wherever you go in Turkey, you can be sure seeing plenty of this dark-coloured tea being sipped, usually in the accompaniment of a simit or baklava. It can get overhyped, but you had better believe it!
Turkish tea is typically prepared using two stacked kettles called “çaydanlık”, which is specifically designed for tea preparation. Water is brought to a boil in the larger lower kettle and then some of the water is used to fill the smaller kettle on top and steep (brew) several spoons of loose tea leaves, producing a very strong tea. When served, the remaining water is used to dilute the tea on an individual basis, giving each consumer the choice between strong or light version. Tea is drunk from small tulip-shaped glasses which are usually held by the rim, in order to save the drinkers’ fingertips from being burned, as the tea is served boiling hot!
Tea is an important part of Turkish culture, and is the most commonly consumed hot drink. Tea is most often consumed in homes and “kıraathane”, which are places of social congregation for Turkish men. Despite its popularity, tea only became the widely consumed beverage of choice in Turkey starting in the 20th century when it was encouraged as an alternative to coffee, which itself had become very expensive in the aftermath of World War I. It is not uncommon for fast food chains to offer their own standardised version of Turkish tea in association with small snacks, such as simit bread rings, or maybe even some lokum.
Turkish cuisine is something of an up and coming cuisine in Europe at the moment, and while everybody knows about some elements (such as doner kebab), it is interesting to learn more about the history and culture of Turkish food and drink before we eat it all! One thing’s for sure: once you try some traditional Turkish tea, you certainly won’t forget it!