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turkish tea

explore turkish tea: a cultural & historical guide

SAKI Team January 25, 2024
Explore Turkish Tea: A Cultural & Historical Guide

Summary: Let's explore the significance of Turkish tea in Turkey's culture and history. We'll delve into the origins of Turkish tea, its unique brewing process, and its role in Turkish social life.

History of Turkish Tea

Turkish tea, known as 'cay /(chai)', is a relatively new tradition in Turkey's long history. Despite being a latecomer to tea culture, it has quickly become a central part of Turkish life. Let's explore how tea found its way into the heart of Turkey and became a national symbol.

Tea's Arrival in Turkey:

Tea first came to Turkey in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the past, the Ottoman Empire favored coffee. However with changing circumstances like the First World War and trade restrictions, coffee became scarce and expensive. People needed an alternative, and tea became a perfect choice.

Tea Cultivation Begins:

The real change came in the 1930s under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey. The government encouraged farming tea leaves especially in the black sea region. The climate and soil in this region were perfect for growing tea. By the 1940s, tea plantations were thriving in Rize, and Turkey was on its way to becoming a major tea-producing country.

Rise in Popularity:

As Turkish-grown tea became more available, it quickly became a staple in Turkish homes. By the mid-20th century, tea was an integral part of Turkish culture. It was more than just a drink; it became a symbol of hospitality and friendship. Serving tea to guests became a sign of welcome and warmth.

Turkish Tea Today:

Today, Turkey drinks more tea than any other country in the world. Average Turkish person drink about 3-4 cups everyday being an average of 1,300 cups of tea per year. In Turkey, people relish their tea at any hour, from the early morning hours to the late night. Tea in Turkey is more than a drink but it's a daily practice that unites individuals in a shared experience.

The Ritual of Brewing and Drinking Turkish Tea

A Turkish household does not consider a visit complete without offering a cup of tea.

Traditional Preparation Method:

The traditional way to make Turkish tea is unique with using a double stacked teapots called 'caydanlik'. The bottom part of the teapot holds water for boiling. The top part, where you put the tea, uses the steam from the boiling water below to slowly brew the tea.

The key is to brew the tea over a low heat for about 15-20 minutes. This slow process gives Turkish tea its strong flavor.

Modern Preparation Method:

Traditional methods of brewing Turkish tea hold a special place in the culture. However today, modern tea makers have introduced convenient ways to enjoy this tea. Two notable examples are the SAKI TeaSmart Electric Turkish Tea Maker and the Chaiovar Electric Samovar.

Both the turkish tea makers represent the modern adaptation of tea culture. Modern tea makers bring a fresh twist to making Turkish tea. They make it easier and more people can try it. Yet, they still replicate the traditional way of brewing to preserve the authentic taste.

Serving the Tea:

Turkish people traditionally serve tea in small tulip-shaped tea glasses. This shape allows you to enjoy the tea's color and aroma fully. Authentically, people enjoy and serve tea without milk but add cubes of sugar to taste.

Cultural Significance

Turkish tea is more than just a beverage; it's a symbol of Turkish hospitality and a vital part of social life.

Tea as a Social Connector:

In Turkey, tea plays a crucial role in social gatherings. Whether it's a family meeting, a chat with friends, or a business discussion, tea is always present.

Offering tea to guests is a sign of welcome and friendship. In Turkey, spending hours of sipping and engaging in conversations is a common ritual. This tradition strengthens bonds and brings people closer together.

Tea Gardens and Cafes:

In Turkey, tea gardens ('cay bahcesi') and tea cafes ('cayhane') are common areas for people to socialize. People of all ages gather in these places to enjoy tea and company. These tea gardens and cafes are not just places to drink tea; they are community centers where people share news, celebrate, and relax.

Role in Daily Life:

Tea is a part of the daily rhythm of life in Turkey. It starts in the morning with a comforting cup to begin the day. Throughout the day, tea breaks are a time for rest and social interaction. In the evening, tea accompanies family gatherings and helps wind down the day.

Tea and Turkish Hospitality:

Turkish hospitality is renowned, and tea is at its heart. Offering a cup of tea as the first thing to guests visiting a Turkish home is a common practice. This gesture of hospitality is deeply ingrained in Turkish culture. It shows respect and a warm welcome to guests.

Tea Ceremonies and Rituals

In Turkey, tea is an important ritual and a ceremonial element in various aspects of life.

Daily Tea Rituals:

In Turkish households, the ritual of tea drinking is a daily affair. Turkish people begin and end their day with a cup of tea. Tea, in the morning, pairs with breakfast, providing a gentle morning.

In the evening, tea accompanies family gatherings, offering a moment of tranquility and togetherness. Turkish lifestyle ingrains these daily rituals around tea, symbolizing comfort and continuity.

Guest Hospitality:

When guests arrive at a Turkish home, offering tea is a customary practice. Offering a tea a gesture of welcome and a way to make guests feel at home. In this context, people prepare and serve tea with care and respect, often accompanied by small snacks or sweets.

Tea at Workplaces:

Tea rituals extend to the workplace in Turkey. Offices and shops often have designated tea times, where workers take a break to enjoy a cup of tea together. This practice serves as more than just a break from work. This tea time serves as a period for socializing and unwinding, cultivating a sense of community among coworkers.

Special Occasions:

Tea also plays a role in special occasions and celebrations. People often serve tea at celebrations and formal events. Whether it's a wedding, a religious festival, or a family celebration, tea is always present.

Tea Houses and Social Gatherings:

In addition to homes and workplaces, tea houses ('cayhane') are important venues for tea rituals. These establishments are social hubs where people gather to chat, play games like backgammon, and enjoy tea. In Turkey, tea houses are important part of social life. They use tea to help people connect and make friends.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Turkish tea is more than a drink in Turkey. It's a big part of the culture, bringing people together and showing friendship and hospitality. No matter how you make it, Turkish tea holds importance. Turkish tea is part of everyday life and special occasions.

This tea tells a story of Turkey's history and connects people, young and old. Tea is not just about its taste, but also about the warm moments and memories it creates.

Common Questions About Turkish Tea

  • Is there a specific time for tea in Turkey? 

People can enjoy tea any time, but it is especially common during breakfast and in the late afternoon. But in truth, any time is tea time in Turkey!

  • How is Turkish tea different from other global tea traditions? 

Turkish tea rituals stand out for two reasons. First, they have a special way of brewing and serving tea. Second, tea is important in Turkey for bringing people together.

  • Why do Turkish people serve Turkish tea with small tulip-shaped glasses? 

This design allows one to see the deep red color of the tea clearly, enhancing the overall experience.

  • Is there an etiquette to drinking tea in Turkey? 

When drinking tea, it's a good idea to take small sips. This helps you enjoy the taste and the talk with others.