Istanbul and the culture of Turkish tea

Who has never had a glass of Turkish çay (tea)? This is one of the signs of Turkish hospitality. In fact, in any place, from homes to shops, from businesses to restaurants, they will offer you tea at any time of day or evening. In Turkey, tea consumption over the years has surpassed that of coffee, making the country one of the largest tea consumers in the world. Then, it is certainly the most popular of all Turkish drinks.
Even the breakfast called “kahvaltı” literally “before coffee” today should be called “çayaltı” “before tea” given the fact that tea is generally found at breakfast nowadays.
In Turkey, tea is grown in Rize, the eastern Black Sea region. or imported for example from Azerbaijan.

Origin of the word “çay” or “tea”

It is said that the word çay tea, one of the first words that tourists learn when they go to Turkey, comes from Chinese. But a curious aspect could cast doubt on this origin. In fact, this is how the “river” is defined in Turkish, which is also encountered in China.
This word in Turkish seems to derive from the verb “çağmak” or “to flow”. So, which of the two peoples he took from the other we do not yet know for sure but the commonality of the two definitions is interesting.
Who, after all, is not fascinated by the teapots of various decorations, sizes and materials or the typical glasses inspired by the shape of the tulip, the symbolic flower of Turkey? Not to mention the skill of the “çaycı” (çay + trade suffix = producer, lover, tea seller) as they run trays with lots of glasses of tea without spilling a drop!

For some time prepared with the traditional two-tiered teapot “çaydanlık” (literally “tea container”, noun obtained by adding the suffix “lik” typical of abstract nouns or “containers” such as “kitaplık” “container of the book / library “), today a metal container is also used, generally cylindrical in shape, especially when meeting with many guests.

çay with dessert
Turkish tea recipe

How to make Turkish tea

The secret of Turkish tea: how to make it! Easier done than said.
Put water in the lower teapot, while in the upper one, put the tea leaves moistened with a little water. Once the water in the lower part begins to boil, it is poured into the upper part containing the tea leaves. Then the lower teapot is refilled with water and the complete teapot is put back on the fire. When the water in the lower part starts boiling again, the tea is ready!
Depending on whether you want a more or less strong tea, more or less of the tea will be placed in the glasses and diluted with less or more water present in the teapot below.
So it’s time to start drinking it, yes, practically immediately, even when it is very hot, almost boiling .. The Turks say it refreshes even in summer .. Will it be true? Try it to believe it ..
Then, if you want to behave like the Turks, usually you never stop at one glass, at least two … even if some even drink 5 in a row!

More information on the Turkish çay

A frequent sight in most towns and villages is a Turkish tea garden called Bahcesi Cay. Friends and families gather here to discuss their lives and enjoy each other’s company, slowly sipping tea. There is a tea room in every village, because it is as important as the local market.


The heart of the country’s tea production takes place on the North East coast in a region called Rize. The temperature, fertile soil, frequent rains, ideal climate and weather forecast combine to form tea leaves that are carefully grown until ready for harvest. From there, the leaves are sent to factories ready to be crushed, packed and shipped to the rest of Turkey and other countries around the world.

Best known brand of Turkish tea

Many tea brands and flavors are stacked high on supermarket shelves, but the best known and most popular is government-owned, the Çaykur brand. The company employs 16,500 people and produces more than 6,600 tons of tea per day. While black tea is the most popular, you can also buy green, apple, organic, and earl gray tea. In Rize, the Çaykur tea garden is a popular place for social gatherings with friends and family.

Turkish tea garden