A delectable Turkish tea party
All my friends have different cultural backgrounds and I’m a traveler at heart, always eager to learn new things about other countries. It’s the perfect match.
Last week my friend Ayca hosted a Turkish tea party. Turkey is a tea producing country. Tea is grown on the Black Sea coast and usually processed as black tea. I see a pattern here. 😊 The word for tea in Turkish is Çay (pronounced like chai). I had never seen Turkish tea being prepared before and while I was expecting the tulip-shaped glasses, I was surprised to see a tea pot stacked on top of a kettle.
Ayca showed me how it works. She filled the lower part, the kettle, with water and then filled the upper tea pot infuser with black tea leaves. The kettle and tea pot are then stacked and put on the stove. The tea leaves get warmed up too, almost lightly steamed. When the water in the kettle reaches a boil, you pour boiling water in the tea pot and let steep on top of the kettle, which keeps the tea warm.
While Ayca was patiently explaining all the details to me, Kopuk made an appearance in the room. Kopuk is Ayca’s beautiful Persian cat and – unsurprisingly – an internet celebrity. Don't you just want to cuddle him too?!
Turkish tea is brewed very strong and has a distinctive deep brownish-red color but you can dilute it with more hot water to taste. It is served in tulip-shaped glasses and usually sweetened with sugar cubes. Turkish tea is always served hot and sweetened, never iced. Re-steeping the leaves is not common. Even kids are allowed to drink tea, in a very light version. Earl Grey is popular too. I hadn’t expected that.
Ayca prepared the most amazing feast! We had Kisir, a spicy bulgur wheat salad with pomegranate molasses; Borek, a phyllo pastry savory pie filled with cheese; Turkish delight, the traditional confection; ice cream with fresh berries and cookies. Everything paired perfectly with our tea.
Offering tea to guests is part of Turkish hospitality. Tea is more popular than alcoholic beverages, including in the evening and at social gatherings. You can expect to be served tea even at a job interview!
Turkish tea houses deliver tea to nearby businesses. The tulip-shaped glasses filled with tea are carried on swinging trays. The person in charge of tea delivery is very skilled and can swing the trays without crashing the glasses or spilling a drop of tea, masterfully defying gravity.
A special thank you to my dear friend Ayca for such an amazing tea party!