Turkish Tea | Çay
Turkish tea is an important part of the Turkish culture. Offered to guests as a symbol of friendship and hospitality, it is served in homes, tea gardens and cafes throughout the country. Tea is commonly served before business negotiations and often offered to customers as they enter shops and stores.
It is generally believed that tea originated in China. According to legend, tea was first discovered in China more than 4,000 years ago by Emperor Nun Shen when a tea leaf fell into a pot of boiling water. Linking China with the Roman Empire, Silk Road trade brought tea too the west. Although tea passed through Turkey on the historic trade route in the 14th century, it did not begin to become a part of daily life until the beginning of the 20th century.
Following the Turkish War for Independence (1919 – 1923), Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (founder of the new republic) promoted tea as a less expensive alternative to coffee. At the time, four glasses of tea could be purchased for the price of a single cup of coffee. In 1924, the first tea plantations were established in the Black Sea Province of Rize. The fertile soil and frequent rainfall in the area are ideal for tea cultivation. Today, the Rize remains at the heart of Turkish tea production.
Traditionally, Turkish tea is prepared using two stacked kettles (çaydanlık). Loose tea leaves are placed in the upper kettle, the lower kettle is filled with water and both are placed over heat. As the water in the lower kettle is heated, it gently warms the tea leaves in the upper kettle. When the water comes to a boil, it is added to the upper kettle to brew the tea. After steeping, tea is diluted (to personal preference) with the remaining water from the bottom kettle. Tea can be served light (açık) or strong (koyu) and is most typically offered in small tulip-shaped glasses.
Indulge in more Refreshing Turkish Beverages
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Lemonade | Limonata
Lemonade is called limonata in Turkish. The ancient Egyptians developed the first lemonade around 500 AD. The beverage was so valued that it was only allowed to be consumed by the Pharaoh.
Raki | Rakı
Raki is considered by many as the national alcoholic beverage of Turkey. Unlike beer or wine, which are produced by fermentation, raki is produced from distilled raisins and aniseed.
Turkish Coffee | Kahve
Coffee is said to have been introduced to Turkey by Ottoman Governor Özdemir Pasha. Istanbul’s first coffeehouse was opened in 1554. Today, coffee persists as an important part of the social and cultural experience.
Wine | Şarap
Evidence indicates that domestication of the grape occurred between 6,000 – 8,000 years ago in Turkey’s Black Sea Region. Wine has been produced in Turkey for six thousand years.
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