Exploring Turkey’s Rich Tea Traditions and Terroirs

Turkish tea in a cup

Greetings fellow tea aficionados! In today’s tea travels, we’ll be sipping our way through the varied landscapes and customs of Turkish tea culture.

The Black Sea region in northeastern Turkey has the ideal climate for cultivating tea. The province of Rize is the heartland of Turkish tea production, covered in terraced tea gardens first planted in the 1940s. This is the only place tea is grown in Turkey.

The main style of tea is Turkish black tea, processed using the traditional CTC (crush-tear-curl) method. The tea leaves are crushed during oxidation to produce a bold, brisk cup. Popular varieties include Kopra, Samson and Coban Cicegi black teas.

Black Tea leaves

Tea is intricately woven into daily life across Turkey. No social visit or family gathering is complete without serving çay – hot black tea brewed strong in a double-decker çaydanlık teapot. Tea is constant companion from breakfast till night.

The traditional Turkish way to prepare çay is to brew it directly in the pot with the leaves loose, not in bags. The tea is served in small curved glasses to retain the heat, and drinkers hold the glass by the rim to avoid burning fingers. Çay is brewed dark and robust and enjoyed plain, never with milk.

Turkish tea is prepared using a unique double-boiling method. Water and loose tea are boiled together in a çaydanlık (teapot) on top of a samovar. This strong concentrate is then diluted with hot water to serve.

Typically 2 teaspoons of tea are used per 6 ounce cup. The tea is strained but not too finely filtered, so some leaf particles remain in the cup. Tea is poured into small curved glasses called istekan to amplify the aroma.

Turkish tea is served hot and strong. It is very common to add sugar. Fresh mint leaves or lemon wedges can also be added for extra flavor.

Beyond the ubiquity of black tea, Turkey also produces some oolong and green teas, often grown at higher altitudes. These speciality teas allow drinkers to experience more delicate and floral notes while still honoring Turkish tea customs.

From the fertile tea fields of Rize to the cozy çay houses of Istanbul, Turkey’s tea culture spans landscapes and binds generations. The hospitality and refined rituals around çay make experiencing traditional Turkish tea a must for any passionate tea lover. Let’s raise our glasses to this fascinating tea region!

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