All about Tea in Turkey - Rivertea Blog
Monica Munteanu | On 02, Jul 2013
How do you take your tea? We bet it’s from a big mug that allows you to savour as much as possible with one serving. Others prefer it differently. Turkish people, to be more exact, drink it from small glasses, similar to shots. And that’s not the only thing that’s distinctive in their ceremony.
Turkish tea culture was developed soon after the First World War, but since then it has evolved rapidly in becoming a daily routine for the locals and competing with the famous Turkish coffee for the title of most appreciated and consumed beverage in the country.
The turks call it çay and they have a saying : “A conversation without tea is like a night sky without a moon.” If you agree, then keep on reading and find out more about what makes tea so awesome in Turkey.
History and production of turkish tea
Despite its amazing popularity today, tea became the top choice beverage in Turkey starting with the 20th century and it was initially adopted as an alternative to coffee. This happened due to the fact that the latter became extremely expensive and, most of the times, unavailable after the First World War.
Turkey’s serious attempts at cultivating tea began in 1917 in the Eastern Black Sea town of Rize. The efforts were harden by the Turkish War for Independence, which made the locals stand against the cultivating and developping of tea plantations in the area. Later on, in 1924, the Government passed a law stating that tea, oranges and filberts would be produced in Rize.
In the late 1930s the Government showed strong interest in the growing of tea, thus in 1937 tons of seeds were brought from Georgia and planted in the specially designed green houses in Rize. The phenomenon began to spread and still plays an essental part in the country’s economy.
Tea became so popular and important, that some towns even changed their names so as to include the word. For instance the town of Kadahor became Ҫaykara, and Mapavri became Ҫayeli. In 1971, a Directorate of Tea Establishments was founded, which had the sole purpose of coordinating the cultivation and processing of tea aiming to expand this area of commerce.
In the present days, Turkey holds an honorary place in the top five consumers and producers of tea in the world. Rize is known as Turkey’s “tea capital”, and there are over 300 factories manufacturing tea in the whole state.
The role tea plays in the everyday life
Tea is regarded as a beverage of friendship and hospitality and it is impossible to go inside a turkish home without being offered at least two glasses. It is usually prepared by the women of the house and it is highly rude to refuse it.
A very popular custom is to gather with friends and family in tea gardens, a preffered rendez-vous point for the turkish, as well as a great attraction for turists. These became popular in the 1950s and, over time, turned into a social venue that you can find in almost any metropolis or small town in Turkey.
In the rural areas of Turkey, tea is forever present at traditional events such as bridal showers where pastries are served, a ritual somewhat similar to the afternoon tea of the British. Turkish also have their own tea time between three and five in the afternoon when tea is served with cakes and other special treats. However drinking tea isn’t at all restricted to this time of day, as people drink it from morning til dawn.
Preparing and serving tea
The preparation of Turkish tea is slightly different from one area of the country to another. Generally, the Turks prefer using a double teapot named “çaydanlık”. They boil water in both pots, while steeping the leaves in the top, smaller one. Afterwards, the hot water from bottom kettle is added individually by taste, depending on if one preffers strong or light. In central and eastern Turkey, the ceremony was influenced by russian traditions: the tea is prepared in special containers named samovars.
As for the serving, Turks prefer to drink their tea from small, tulip-shaped glasses, similar to the ones the Moroccans use for their tea serving. The tea glass must be clear in order to allow the tea drinker to appreciate and admire the color of the tea which should always be crimson red.
In large touristic cities like Istanbul or Ankara, tea may be served to the tourists in porcelain teacups and mugs like the Western way, but the tulip-shaped glass is the traditional option. Tea is sweetened with sugar; sometimes Turks add lemons to their teas, but never milk.
If you’re a fan of trying new tea experiences then the turkish ceremony is one not to miss. Put on a kettle and take out the glasses.
We’ll soon launch our new incredible tasty tea blends. Join us, there are lots of special gifts waiting for you.