› [Tea]

turkish tea pot  
"it takes two to tango"

Peculiar Turkish tea pot is another reason to visit Istanbul and drink the Turkish tea made in it. Tea leaves on top, water on the bottom. The pot is a two-story "structure" where wonderful Turkish tea is brewed.

"You'll burn the tea if you boil it directly in the water" my Turkish husband believes. Despite my objections to how absurd the idea sounds, locals do follow the rule. Never boil the tea directly in the water.

Turks consume an average of 1,000 cups of tea per person per year. This is one of the world's highest tea consumption rates. Trust the tea recipe that comes from here. Afiyet olsun! Enjoy your tea!

Turkish tea potTea pot the Turkish style
© Oocoskun | Dreamstime.com

Turkish tea starts from Turkish tea pot.  It takes two pots to make the tea Turks drink.  They do take their time to prepare the beloved drink of the entire nation.  Every household has the two pots, every bride gets the two pots, every cafe and restaurant has the magic two pots to prepare the tea.

The teapot can be made of porcelain, steel, glass or copper.  It can be as cheap as 5 USD and go up to 50 USD per set.  

Tea preparation in Turkish tea pot

Two Turkish tea potsPots on a hot stove in a restaurant
© Shuo Wang | Dreamstime.com

Turkish tea prepared at home may differ from the preparation process in restaurants and cafes.  

On the picture above you see two pots with tea being brewed in them. The big stove has hot water in it and a tap attached (not visible in the picture). The pots have black tea leaves in them.

Here is how tea is prepared in a typical household: 

  1. The two pots, one on top of another, are put on a stove.
  2. The tea pot on the bottom gets the most heat.  It has water boiled in it.  
  3. The second, smaller, tea pot gets to sit on top. Loose leaves of black tea go to the top pot.  
  4. After water in the lower tea pot is boiled, some of it is poured in the top pot with leaves.  
  5. Best tea is brewed with stove fire at the minimum.
  6. The leaves are brewed for 10-15 minutes.  Time counting starts after the water started boiling in the bottom pot.


Serving Turkish teaPouring hot water over brewed tea
© Leyla Ismet | Dreamstime.com

Tea is served by pouring some of the strong freshly brewed tea from the top pot. Usually 1/3 of the glass is filled with the strong tea.  Boiled water from the bottom pot is used to fill up the glass.  

Decide how much boiled water to pour depending on how strong you like your tea.  

(!) "Achik cai" in Turkish means less strong tea.  If you say "chai" you would mean a stronger Turkish tea.

Drinking tea only from the top part of the Turkish teapot maybe unpleasant. The tea there is usually too strong to enjoy the drink.  

Ever wondered why "tea" or "chai" are the only two words used to describe this drink almost in every language? Apparently it's "tea" if came by sea, and "chai" if spread by land.   

Tea bags

Tea from tea bags is not Turkish tea.  Rarely you will be served tea from a tea bag.  Even if you do get the bags, they will be brewed in the two pots. Only then will your tea be poured into your glass.

Mini teaspoons

Tulip tea glass and a spoonphoto by Quinn Dombrowski

Tea glasses and teaspoons are a forever couple in Turkish tea culture.  The tiny teaspoon in Turkey is smaller than the teaspoon you are used to. Usually the spoon is there to stir the sugar.  In Turkey you get the cute tiny teaspoon regardless of whether you want sugar in your tea or not.  

It is the tradition. Can not argue the tradition.   

Turkish tea glasses

Turkish tea glassesTulip shaped tea glasses

Turkish tea glasses are made in a tulip shape.

There is a reason why tea in Turkey is served in special tulip-shaped glasses. To enjoy the drink hot for as long as possible it takes a special shape.  Tulip shape gives an easy grip of the glass.  

Just like the Turkish tea pot, Turkish tea glasses have top and bottom.

The elegant narrow waist of the glass prevents bottom part of the tea from cooling down quickly.  Top portion of the tea cools off quicker and brings the tea to the comfortable temperature for drinking. 

Tea houses and tea gardens

Serving Turkish tea
© Leyla Ismet | Dreamstime.com

Turkish tradition of drinking tea is very incorporated into city's infrastructure. You can run into tea houses almost in every neighborhood in Istanbul.  Small tables with taborets (stools) make up the tea houses.  Mostly men attend the tea houses where they spend their free time and chat.  Tea houses are where neighborhood's news are spread.

Tea gardens ("chai bahchesi" in Turkish) on the other hand are both for men and women.  There are tea gardens in large parks, in restaurants, in touristic areas, in sleeping districts.

More pictures of Turkish tea pots

Turkish desserts every visitor must taste when in Istanbul

Take a food tour in Istanbul

Enjoy your tea time in Istanbul!

Bon apetit!  "Afiyet olsun!" in Turkish.