Anyone not familiar with the country of Turkey may assume coffee is the national drink but this could not be more wrong. The Turks love drinking tea from sunrise to sunset and there is never a bad time to drink it in Turkey.
The practice is firmly ingrained in the culture as a social experience and a sign of hospitality, ensuring the Turks even beat the Brits when assessing daily consumption.
Called Cay (pronounced chai) it is a clear that Turkey is a nation of tea drinkers.
The Turkish Tea Culture
On most busy streets, there is a familiar sight. A young boy carrying a silver tray hurries through the crowd to deliver small tulip shaped glasses filled with black tea.
The fragrant liquid is not traditionally drunk with milk or lemon, only sugar cubes and sometimes than enough to make a very sweet drink.
Shopkeepers often offer customers a Turkish tea, as a sign of friendship and hospitality. Any holidaymakers browsing through shops only have to say “yes” when being offered the tea and they immediately gain a glimpse into one of Turkey’s strong traditions.
Social Etiquette of the Turkish Tea House and Garden
A frequent sight in most towns and villages is a Turkish tea garden called a Çay Bahceşi. Friends and families will gather here to discuss their lives and enjoy each other’s company while sipping slowly on tea.
Although everyone goes to the tea garden, it is not often that a woman will be spotted in a Turkish teahouse. Predominately a male environment, there is a teahouse in every village because it is just as important as the local market.
Their wives and girlfriends do not accompany them because the men gather around the table to play board games for hours while sipping on a variety of tea flavors.
Production and Preparation Facts About Rize
The heart of tea production in the country happens on the North East coast in a region called Rize. Fertile soil, frequent rainfall, an ideal climate, and weather temperatures all combine to form tealeaves that are carefully nurtured until they are ready for picking.
From there, the leaves are sent to the factories ready to be crushed, packaged, and shipped to the rest of Turkey and other countries around the world.
Most well-known Brands of Turkish tea
Many brands and flavors of tea are stacked high on supermarkets shelves but the most well-known and popular is the government owned Çaykur brand.
In Rize, the Çaykur tea garden is a popular place to meet socially with friends and family. The company employs 16,500 people and produces more than 6,600 tons of tea per day. While black tea is the most popular, it is also possible to buy green, apple, organic and earl grey tea.
How to make Turkish Tea
To make Turkish tea, a Caydanlik is needed. This is two pots stacked on top of each other and water is placed in the bottom pot, while the tealeaves and a little water is put into the top pot.
When the bottom pot has boiled, mix the water with the tealeaves in the top pot. Then pour the tea into glasses through a strainer so they are half filled. Top up with the boiled water from the bottom pot.
As well as being a large part of the culture, the health benefits of Turkish tea are enormous.
So while you are in Turkey, accept an invitation to enjoy a glass of Turkish tea.
It is the biggest sign of hospitality that a Turk will ever make.
Readers Question : Do you like Turkish tea?
Visit Rize on our Black sea tour
This tour takes you to many beautiful places including the city of Rize which is famous for tea production. Also see waterfalls, lakes and stay in a traditional Black Sea Plateau. Learn more…