A couple of posts earlier I wrote about Tea cultures for around the world. As this post was very popular I decided that every now and then I will focus on a particular culture and write a bit more in depth about it. This week I wanted to tell you about Turkish Tea.
Tea or “Çay” is a huge part of Turkish culture, per person per year the average person drinks nearly 7 pounds! They are the world’s biggest tea drinkers (Surpassing United Kingdom!). It is used as a centerpiece for socializing and any household you are in will always have a pot brewing. Tea houses and gardens are very popular in Turkey and found in most towns and cities.
In 1878 Mehmet Izzet, Governor of Turkey at the time released a pamphlet highlighting the health benefits of Turkish tea. However, at this time coffee was the most popular drink that was being consumed. Tea did not become popular until the 1930s after the first tea plantation was started in Rize. Rize has a mild and wet climate ideal for the growth of tea. This began the rise in popularity of tea.
As with other teas it is from the Camellia Sinensis plant but unlike the black teas that are produced these leaves are not exposed to chemicals or additives. It is prepared without but with sugar and using a caydanlik which is two stacked kettles (see photo below). Boiling water is added to the kettle pot on the bottom and water and tea leaves are added to the top kettle which is where the tea steeps. They are served in glasses that resemble tulips, which are the national flower of Turkey, and are held by the rim.
How to prepare:
1. Pour 1 liter of boiling water in the bottom teapot
2. Put 5 tbsp or 1/3 cup of black tea leaves into the upper teapot
3. Pour 1/2 liter of boiling water into the upper teapot. Some teapots will be bigger or smaller so adjust accordingly
4. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the tea leaves have sunk to the bottom which takes usually around 15 minutes
5. Serve and enjoy!
As the pot is always brewing it can often become too strong so water from the bottom teapot can be added to balance the taste. You can adjust the brewing time depending on whether you like a stronger or weaker taste.
This week I am reviewing three teas from ‘The Tea Spot’ located in Boulder, Colorado. Click here for there website. The wonderfully presented package they sent me came with Coconut Cabana (an Oolong based tea), Bolder Breakfast (a Black and Pu-erh based tea) and Bolder Blues (a Green based tea). They also sent me a postcard with a personalized message!
Ingredients: Oolong Tea, Shaved Coconut and Natural Coconut Extract
Brew Time: 2-4 min
When I opened this packet this blend smelt good enough to eat! The luscious coconut smells fills my nostrils and it’s like I’m drinking it already. As it’s brewing the longer you brew it the stronger the smell of coconut. I brewed mine for the maximum time so I got a strong scent. This tea is refreshing and exotic. The oolong tea makes it light and it has a clear and delicate flavor with no bitter after taste.
Ingredients: Green Tea, Mallow Flowers, Cornflowers, Strawberry & Rhubarb Flavoring
Brew Time: 2-3 min
This blend reminds me of Spring time, the flowers blooming around me and the strawberries ready to be picked. It smells deliciously of strawberries and rhubarb with a hint of flowery notes. When I brewed this tea the floral notes came out more and I kept on lifting the lid of my glass infuser to smell it again and again. This green tea is delicious and light with an exquisite flavor. I found when I drank it that the Mallow flower and Cornflower scent came first and then there was a sweet after taste.
Ingredients: Black Tea, Pu’erh Tea, Mallow Flowers and Dark Chocolate Flavoring
Brew Time: 4-5 min
The chocolate smell in this was fantastically overpowering which I adored because I love chocolate (who doesn’t?). This is an interesting tea as I found when I was drinking this tea it had a hint of chocolate but not so much that I would call this a dessert tea. The addition of the pu’erh lightened this tea so if you find black tea too strong this would be ideal for you. I had this without milk but you could add a dash of milk if you needed to.
Overall I would say Coconut Cabana was definitely my favorite! However, I enjoyed all three of these teas, the flavors were true to its ingredients and the smells were divine. The Tea Spot are true to its word and they really do provide freshly blended premium tea. Their full leaf signature blends are handcrafted in Boulder, Colorado. They promote fair labor, the health benefits of tea and donate 10% in sales to cancer and community wellness programs. They genuinely are a company to support!
Time for me to tell you about the bird and the teas (get it? :P) when it comes to tea accessories. Now, your tea accessories will depend on the type of tea that you drink. For example, Matcha drinkers will need different accessories such as a chawan (the bowl), a bamboo whisk and a scoop. However, if you’re into drinking just the standard loose leaf teas these are the accessories I think you definitely need:
- Teapots: This is a no brainer, you need a good teapot to brew your tea in. I would also recommend getting tea pots of different size and materials. Click here to see my previous post for a guide to the type of teapot you need to buy.
- Infusers: These are the best invention ever and come in different sizes and designs too! You can get just a simple tea ball or one that sits in your cup or a crazy cute design. Click here to check out an article which lists the most creative tea infuser designs (I want the rocket!). These are great if you are just making loose tea for yourself and don’t want to get the teapot out.
- Tea tins/jars: I recommend getting good tea tins that don’t let any moisture or air into the tea as this can affect the taste of the tea. If like me you buy your loose leaf in bulk and it comes in a brown bag put it in the tea tin as soon as you get it. It will help it to last longer.
- Porcelain or bone china tea cup: For me the type of cup I use really affects the taste of my tea. I have a porcelain tea cup and it just tastes a lot better. I have read articles about how porcelain is better for after taste and bone china is better for the body of the tea. I can’t comment much on this and it is for you to decide what you prefer!
- Variable temperature kettle: If you are a tea connoisseur then you really need one of these. Depending on the type of tea you are having, the water will need to be a different temperature. For example black tea needs to be brewed at a higher temperature compared to white tea. This is on my wish list right now.
Some more accessories are labels for your tea tins (it’s beneficial to use the same tea in the same tin), measuring spoons, tea cup set and a tea tray (when you are serving tea to guests). Let me know what tea accessory you can’t live without!
Image taken from: http://blog.mightyleaf.com/tag/teaware/
This is a very simple recipe but I love the coconut addition to it. When making green tea I always use Davidson’s Organics Imperial Green Loose Leaf Tea. It is a stronger flavor but doesn’t leave a bitter taste in the mouth and it tastes great! You can buy it in bulk from their website or from amazon (It’s cheaper on Amazon). http://www.davidsonstea.com/Imperial_Green_Loose_Leaf.aspx
For the coconut flavoring adding more shaved or shredded coconut doesn’t add any more flavor, it just makes your tea very oily. So to get that great coconut taste I found natural coconut flavoring from my local spice shop. The supermarkets will hold imitation coconut flavoring which is not as harsh on the wallet but it depends if you are okay with artificially flavored tea. I would recommend the natural extract but it is up to you!
16 oz Water
2 tsp Green tea
1 tsp Shaved or Shredded Coconut
1 tsp Coconut flavoring
Brew time: 2-3 minutes or to taste