Obsession with Turkish Tea

Turkish tea is probably one of the finest tea you will drink- it is the kind of drink you get addicted to from the get go, and it will most certainly change your life. Turkish tea is quite strong, and it is traditionally served black- rather apt, as it is cultivated on the coast of the Black Sea. It is a piping hot drink that makes for the best conversations starter, as well.

Turkish Tea drnk the traditional way

Turkish tea is an extremely strong drink- it is considered an offence to serve someone tea that is weak and light! If you are visiting Turkey, your trip will be incomplete without getting a cup of tea. When you visit a Turkish çay cafe,  you will see that the strong brew is brewed in a traditional a two-tiered tea kettle. This kettle is kept on so that the tea remains hot the entire duration, so that it can be served piping hot, no matter when the client demands it.

If you wish to add some more flavour to the tea, you can opt to put some sugar, honey or lemon in it. Some people prefer Turkish tea drunk straight- without any extra additions as well.

If you have some black tea leaves, you can try whipping up your own Turkish tea at home– you just have to make sure that you have the right kettle to brew the tea in, and the right kind of glasses to serve the tea in, the Turkish are rather specific about the way the tea is served preferring glass to the china we at home.

Salep with a touch of Kahramanmaras ice-cream

Salep served topped with cinnamon on a cold wintery day
Cups of Delicious Salep

I had my first taste of a special Turkish drink on a cold wintery day in Istanbul about 15 years ago. I was crossing the Bosphorus for the first time from East, Anatolian, to the west, European side. Despite it being cold and snowy I was outside absorbing the magnificent skyline, the minarets, the mosque the palace, all seen before via web sites but nothing was like that first view. I have been to Istanbul before but always flown and drove so not had this experience of the crossing of the Bosphorus that many in history share. The skyline now also holds fantastic high-rise buildings but they do not diminish the magnificence of the view. I was literally shivering when my husband brought me a milky looking drink in a plastic cup. I did not really plan on drinking it (I don’t like milk) just holding it warmed my hands!  The aroma from the drink was rich and not milky it had a spicy element to it that I couldn’t place at first. Then I sipped it. Oh it was nectar, a little taste of luxury and it felt so smooth to swallow.  The spice was cinnamon and the drink Salep. I have drunk salep many times since but will never forget that first introduction.

Salep urn on the streets in Istanbul

Salep has a long history in Eastern culture being popular in Turkey, Iran and the Middle East. Different areas tend to use slightly different flavourings rose or orange water being popular with Arab Salep drinkers while Turks prefer vanilla. The main ingredient to Salep is an orchid tuber, although now commercially produced salep is readily available and much better for conservation than using the ever decreasing orchids. In Turkey you traditionally buy your salep from the cake shops and it is often prepared in large brass urns. My favourite way to drink it is with a piece of the very special kahramanmaraş ice cream placed in it before the cinnamon is sprinkled on top; a fabulous combination of hot, cold, creamy and spicy…wonderful.  If you fancy having a go at making this at home have a look at this site, interesting facts and the recipe is at the end. Afiyet olsun