Tea is a big part of Turkish culture, while walking on the streets of cities, you can find a lot of people drinking black tea in a small tulip shaped cups while sitting next to passage.You can also see people caring the tea on the plader on the streets. Turkish tea brings people together, its a reason for socialising and relaxing and turkish people know how to enjoy life.Beside cultural and social reasons, turkish black tea is also beneficial for health and digestion of all the heavy meaty food that is being consumed.
Althought Turkey is best know for its coffe, the tea is the most consumed beverage.
“Çaysız söhbet, aysız gök yüzü gibidir”
(Conversations without tea are like a night sky without the moon)
-Folk saying from Sivas, Turkey
Most of the tea produced in Turkey is Rize tea, a terroir from Rize Province on the eastern Black Sea coast, which has a mild climate with high precipitation and fertile soil. This tea is usually processed as black tea, though it is known for its rich red color.
In 2004 Turkey produced 205,500 tonnes of tea (6.4% of the world’s total tea production), which made it one of the largest tea markets in the world, with 120,000 tons being consumed in Turkey, and the rest being exported. Furthermore, in 2004, Turkey had the highest per capita tea consumption in the world, at 2.5 kg per person—followed by the United Kingdom.
Types of tea
Turkish teas are divided into 3 main strength classes: strong dark teas known as koyu; medium deep brownish red teas called tavşan kanı, which means rabbit’s blood; and weak light teas called açık
Beside using normal tea leaves and filter tea, its very common to use powder tea made mostly from apple, pomegranate, cherry, rose or karadut.
Turkish tea is typically prepared using two stacked kettles called “çaydanlık” specially designed for tea preparation. Water is brought to a boil in the larger lower kettle and then some of the water is used to fill the smaller kettle on top and steep (infuse) several spoons of loose tea leaves, producing a very strong tea. When served, the remaining water is used to dilute the tea on an individual basis, giving each consumer the choice between strong (Turkish: koyu, literally “dark”; or tavşan kanı, literally “rabbit’s blood”) and weak (Turkish: açık, literally “light”). Tea is drunk from small glasses to enjoy it hot in addition to showing its colour, with cubes of beet sugar. It is almost never taken with milk.
History of Turkish Tea
Surprisingly, compared to tea’s thousands years of history, Turkish tea 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 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. In 1924, the parliament passed a law about cultivating tea in the east of the Black Sea region. In the late 30s, 70 tons of black tea seeds were imported from Georgia in order to start nurseries in the region. In 1940, an additional law that supported the farmers and protected their rights boosted the cultivation of tea in the region. Today, 767 million m² of land is used to grow tea, and it is the second most consumed Turkish drink, after water.
Serving the Tea
Turks use special curved, see-through tea glasses in a tulip shape and a small plate underneath for making it easier to carry and serve. Since the steeped tea is on the top pot you should be careful with the amount you pour onto the glass. Often the tea is served with a little dessert, famous turkish delight.
Half of a glass is very strong (koyu or demli), a quarter of a glass is considered normal, and less is light (açık). Then you of course add water to fill rest of the glass. Not all the way up though! You should leave 1 cm of space at the top to help the drinker to get a sip without spilling or burning his or her fingers. Moreover, 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.
Why Tulip shape?
The tulip motif goes way back. While many of us might associate tulips with the Netherlands, they apparently first grew along the 40° latitude corridor, making them native to northern China and southern Europe—and of course Turkey.
In the 1500s, during Sultan Suleiman I’s reign over the Ottoman Empire, tulips were cultivated especially for the sultan.
When Ahmed III ruled the Ottoman Empire from 1703 to 1730, the tulip:
reigned supreme as a symbol of wealth and prestige and the period later became known as ‘Age of the Tulips.’ (Tesselaar Bulbs)
With their endowed status, tulips were tightly regulated. Exile threatened those who bought or sold this flower outside the capital.
The bloom was also celebrated with spectacular tulip festivals,
held at night during a full moon. Hundreds of exquisite vases were filled with the most breath-taking Tulips, crystal lanterns were used to cast an enchanting light over the gardens whilst aviaries were filled with canaries and nightingales that sang for the guests. Romantically, all guests were required to wear colours which harmonised with the flowers! (Tesselaar Bulbs)
So important is the tulip to Turkish culture that they became entwined “within the arts and folklore. You can find references to the tulip all over Turkey, in embroidery, clothing, carpets, tiles and of course the glasses that are made to contain çay [tea]. Four hundred million tulip tea glasses are sold in Turkey every year”
Another reason for using tulip shaped cups are that they are more economical, smaller and cheaper to produce.