Friday, July 16, 2010

Tea Around the World – Turkey

By Jess Hodges

When you think of hot drinks and Turkey you probably think of the coffee. Made from powdered beans (but in no way to be confused with instant coffee), black as night and terrifyingly strong. Popular throughout the middle east, Turkish coffee and the shops that serve it are something of an institution.

However, these days, tea or çay is becoming more and more popular and is starting to replace it's more caffeinated counterpart with the younger generations. In 2004 Turkey had the highest tea consumption per person of any country in the world and produced 6.4% of the world's tea.

Turkish çay is a black tea grown on the eastern shore of the Black Sea in the Rize province and is generally known as Rize tea. The rise of tea drinking in Turkey was a result of the limited availability of coffee after the Second World War.

The tea is prepared in two kettles, a large one for the water and a smaller one for the leaves which are stacked one on top of the other. Boiling water is added from the lower kettle to the smaller one to create a very strong tea. Drinkers then fill their glasses using both kettles in order to dilute the concentrated tea to their own tastes.

It is served in small, clear glasses, sometimes with the addition of beetroot sugar to enhance it's colour but never with milk or honey. The glasses are called ince belli for their shape and should be held by the rim to avoid burning your fingers. Tea is offered as a sign of friendship and hospitality before and after meals and is drunk almost constantly throughout the day. As in so many countries it is an inherently social drink to be talked over and enjoyed.

As Turkish tea production continues to increase maybe the time had come for Turkish coffee to give way to a new successor?


lahikmajoe said...

I just wrote about this on my blog recently. Great overview.

I learned the hard way to hold the cup at its rim to avoid burning one's fingers.