A sip of tea from tulip shape glass
A visit to Turkey, to Istanbul (for personal Istanbul tours) suggests together with going sightseeing, to get familiar with the local cuisine, local traditions…
Surely, every one of you has, at least once, heard or even tasted Fish and bread, Turkish coffee and Turkish tea. If not, then it is time to do so. Today, wherever you go in Turkey (in every park, village, town square … in any place which offers a good view), you will find many small teahouses or tea gardens. These are not simply places where you can have tea while enjoying the Bosphorus, for example, but they are social clubs where men mainly gather, especially in the evening. There they feel fine to play backgammon.
Some of the typical tea gardens in Istanbul are Camlica, on the Asian side, the Pierre Loti cafe in the neighbourhood of Eyup, the tea garden in Uskudar.
Turkish tea is one of the things that symbolizes Turkey and always there to make personal Istanbul tours lovelier and friendlier, still it is relatively young. Some sources mention that Turks traded and consumed tea as soon as 400 B.C., but certain is that tea only became common in Turkey from the 1900s onwards. The first record of using tea as a beverage comes from China dating back to the 10th century BC. But only since 1589, Europeans learnt about tea when a Venetian author credits the lengthy lives of Asians to their tea drinking.
Drinking Turkish tea as healthy as enjoying personal Istanbul tours
In 1878 one of the governors in Turkey published a book about tea which described health benefits of drinking tea. At that time the first tea houses opened in Istanbul. Still, coffee remained the hot beverage to be preferred. Then, in 1923 after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the loss of important provinces, coffee became expensive to import and it turned to be luxury. Ataturk then, encouraged drinking tea as an alternative to coffee.
The very first attempt to grow tea on Turkish soil took place in Bursa between 1888 and 1892. It wasn’t a success since this part of the country is ecologically inadequate for growing tea. Later, the Rize province on the East coast of the Black Sea. It was found to have mild climate and fertile soil and there the Turks began to produce their own tea, Rize tea.
First tea plantations started in 1924
The first tea plantations were started in 1924 in Rize, with tea seeds brought from neighboring Georgia. Rize tea is a form of black tea which produces a ruby red, crystal clear liquid. It is brewed for a long time, at least 15 minutes. For it, two stacked kettles are used – a larger lower one and a smaller top one. Water, preferably spring water, is boiled in the lower kettle, while tea is put in the top kettle. As many teaspoons of tea plus one for the kettle itself are put, as the number of people who are to drink tea is. Then, give it at least fifteen minutes to brew perfectly. And that simple, easy-going drink known as Turkish tea (or cay in Turkish) is ready.
Unlike other nations which are famous for drinking tea, tea in Turkey is drank plain, no milk, only a sugar or two (according to one’s taste). Turks use special curved, see-through tea glasses and a small plate underneath for making it easier to carry and serve. Traditional Turkish tea glasses have no handle like a regular Western cup. So you need to hold the glass from the top using your thumb and index finger.
Make a lot of noise
Then, take a spoon, stir your tea and make a lot of noise; hold the tulip-shaped glass cup by the edge because it is very hot. And also because you are going to drink several of these glasses. Afiyet olsun!
‘Turkish tea is peaceful… A glass of tea is offered in all circumstances – when you walk into a shop, office, home. It bestows a gesture of grace. Tea symbolises all that Turkey is…’ Katharine Branning, ‘Turkish tea is a symbol of everything that they seek to give to the world. It’s a gesture of peace. It’s a gesture of friendship.’
Turkey is the fifth largest tea-drinking nation in the world
Doesn’t matter if you like tea or not, in your private daily Istanbul tour, you will see and smell Turkish tea everywhere. It can be a complementary drink in a shop or in a restaurant after your lunch. It is definitely worth to try.
Tea is a beverage which entertains in the evening, consoles at midnight and salutes the sunrise in the morning. Turkish tea is ever flowing; it is drunk all day long – from morning till bedtime.
The tea may be simple but it is always served with love and respect. It is never drunk alone, but always with someone. The sight of cheerful `cayci` or tea-waiters carrying trays of tea is a sight that will greet you everywhere in Turkey.
Come for personal Istanbul tours!