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.