Turkish tea: hot, fragrant, bracing, and
available everywhere, all the time in Turkey.
tink tinka tinka tinklinklinkle, the tiny stainless steel spoons
rang against the little tulip-shaped glasses as we stirred in sugar,
holding the spoon-end between thumb and index finger, pinkie aloft.
Gingerly I held the gold rim of the glass so as not to burn my
fingers. Dainty sotto voce slurps, mixing cool air with hot
tea as it enters the mouth.
sigh. Ahhhhh! Good tea." (—from Bright
Sun, Strong Tea, "Rockefeller
coffee is more famous, but Turkish tea (çay,
CHAH-yee) is the national drink, brewed from leaves grown on the
steep, verdant mountain slopes of Turkey's eastern Black
Traditionally, Turkish tea is brewed
samovar-style, with a small pot of very strong tea sitting on
a larger vessel of boiling water. Pour a small amount of strong tea
into a little tulip-shaped glass and cut it to the desired strength
with hot water.
In recent years tea bags, especially foreign
brands, have become something of a status symbol, but most of Turkey
still runs on real samovar-brewed Black Sea coast
Turks usually add cube sugar (never milk or
lemon, although you can often get milk or lemon if you
The sight of the çayci (CHAH-yee-jee,
tea-waiter) carrying a tray of glasses to thirsty, caffeine-craving
tea-drinkers is one of the first and most common sights
you'll see in Turkey. Having fresh, hot tea always available
everywhere is one of life's splendid little luxuries in
Order your tea açik (ah-CHUK, “open,”
weak), or koyu (koh-YOO, dark) as you like. In some
restaurants and pastry-shops you can order a duble çay
(DOOB-leh, double tea): it comes in a water glass. But why not have
a small traditional glass and when you've finished it order a fresh
one? And another, and another....
Actually, read all about it in an article
I wrote for the Sunday Telegraph (London).
If you don't want caffeine, try
Ihlamur: linden-flower tea (mostly in winter)
Elma Çay: apple tea, like hot apple juice
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Turkish Food &
Sun, Strong Tea excerpts