As a part of our journey to explore tea cultures around the world, today we are going to discuss about Turkey.

It is hard to imagine breakfasts, social gatherings, business meetings, negotiations for carpets in the Grand Bazaar, or ferry rides across the Bosphorus in Turkey without the presence of tea. With tea servers in streets, shopping malls, and parks shouting, “ÇAY!” (chai) the beverage is always within shouting distance. It is fundamental to Turkish social life and plays a large role in Turkey’s domestic economy.

History of tea in Turkey

Although tea passed through Turkey as part of the Silk Road trade in the 1500s, it did not begin to become a part of daily life until nearly four centuries later. In 1878 tea consumption began to spread through Istanbul as tea houses opened in Sultanahmet. Tea was made popular by Mehmet Izzet, the then governor of Adana, as he published the Çay Risalesi (Tea Pamphlet), touting the health benefits of drinking tea. Coffee was still the preferred hot beverage during this period but tea consumption began to spread as tea houses opened in the Sultanahmet area of Istanbul. Also, tea became a cheaper alternative to coffee; four glasses of tea could be purchased for the price of one cup of Turkish coffee.

Tea consumption in Turkey

Today, Turks have one of the highest per capita consumption rates of tea, averaging about 1,000 cups per year. This high rate owes itself to the availability of places to consume tea, social customs and traditions, and domestic production along the Eastern Black Sea coast.
Travel to any town in Turkey and you are sure to find a tea house or a tea garden. In smaller towns and rural areas, tea houses are the preferred social hub where news and gossip are exchanged. In the larger cities and touristic regions, tea houses welcome the young and old, as well as many foreigners. Tea gardens, another social venue for drinking tea, gained popularity in the 1950s, especially in Istanbul, and were the place where families went for their social outings. It is important to note that the Turkish tea garden is very different from a Japanese tea garden. Whereas the latter is quiet and serene and was developed in conjunction with the Japanese tea ceremony,  Turkish tea gardens are hubs of social activity with kids running around, music playing, and lively conversation among various groups from students, to businessmen to retirees and foreigners.

Preparation and serving

Turks prepare tea using a double tea pot. Water is boiled in the lower (larger) pot and the loose-leaf tea is steeped in the top (smaller) pot. Turks prefer to drink tea in small tulip-shaped glasses. 400 million of these glasses are sold each year in Turkey. Though the origins of this shape are not known, the clear glass allows the drinker to appreciate the crimson color of the tea. The tea glass is so important in Turkish life it is used as a measurement in recipes.

 

Article Source: http://www.turkishculture.org/culinary-arts/turkish-tea-53.htm