In Turkey tea is an inseparable drink. It is used to relax, to welcome someone into a home, a business or a meeting. Tea is drunk on hot and cold days, in actual fact one could boldly call it the national drink.

Cay ( pronounced as chai ) has been the start of many a good friendship, it even has its own proverb connecting it with love :
“ Sevmek, cay gibidir sevilmek seker bizim gibi garibanlar cay sekeriz “ which means “ To love is like tea , to be loved is like sugar “

Tourists love the sweet apple tea ( interestingly if you read the ingredients there is no mention of apple), a personal favourite for me that I have managed to hunt down in Johannesburg for my Turkish homesick moments. The tea is served in a glass tulip shaped cup with a small plate beneath it, with a cube or two of sugar and NO milk. You hold the glass cup from the top using your thumb and index finger. The reason for the clear glass is so that the drinker can admire the hue of the tea.

The Chinese first discovered the tea leaf, it is the most consumed drink in the world after water. Tea only became common in Turkey from the 1900’s onwards. Most of the tea produced in Turkey is Rize tea from the Rise province on the Eastern Black Sea coast. Tea is typically prepared using two stacked kettles called a “ caydanlik “. Water is boiled in the large bottom pot and then some of the water is used to fill the smaller pot on top and infuse several spoons of loose tea leaves, this makes a strong cup of tea. Some of the pots are to be placed directly onto a stove top or fire others like the one I brought back from Turkey are electric and come in modern colours.

Tea tips :

Dont boil the water for to long – the oxygen level will decrease, the dry tea in the top pot will get
Count to 10 before adding water to the tea, wait a few seconds for the actual boiling to stop.
To make quality tea, put some of the tea into cold water, if the colour changes slowly then it is
good quality tea.
Half a glass of tea is very strong, a 1/4 is consider correct and then you add water to the rest of
the glass.

Interesting Facts:

Never refuse a cup of tea, its considered rude.
All tea comes from the same plant called a Camellia Sinesis.
Turkish tea is classed as black tea.
Tea is normally drank ofter a meal and often one cup is complimentary at a restaurant.
Turkey is the 6th largest producer of tea in the world.
Turks drink around 2.5 kilograms of tea per person per year.
The oldest tea company in Turkey is Caykur. The other well known brand is Dogus.
Tea is calorie free
Tea has 50% less caffeine than coffee.
Tea may reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
In places like The Grand Bazaar you will see young boys carrying metal trays laden with glasses of tea, sugar and small spoons. They are the runners from the tea house often called by the various shops, the shops pay with tokens or cash. The tea house ( cay evi) usually has men of all ages sitting inside playing backgammon or talking or else just sitting and rubbing their worry beads as they have time out from their wives.
To signal you have had enough tea, you would place the tea spoon on top of the glass or inside. you can also turn the glass onto its side but never upside down, this means the tea was terrible.
In Eastern Turkey the drinker will place a hard cube of sugar called Kitlama under their tongue or tucked into their cheek and allow it to dissolve slowly while drinking the hot tea.

If you love tea as much as my one son Turkey is the place to be and a Caydanlik is the perfect kitchen appliance.

Afiyet Olsun ( loosely translated as ‘enjoy your meal / drink ‘ )