8th
May
2015

Posted in Kafevend Blog

It's our guess that more people reading this blog today will have heard of an ibrik than a çaydanlık and yet both come from the same place and both are connected to the drinks we hold most dear here on the Kafevend blog! So yes, while an ibrik is the instrument for preparing Turkish coffee, a  çaydanlık is used to brew Turkish tea. Perhaps the reason we're more familiar with the idea of an ibrik is because Turkish coffee has gained a wide following around the world, whereas Turkish tea, to a large extent, remains a tradition within its own borders. Today then, we're hoping to discover what we've been missing.

Although coffee was first brought to Turkey during the 1500s and enjoyed from then on in, tea's history there is more recent- in fact, tea didn't gain widespread popularity until the 1900s. Nevertheless, it gained such a foothold that it soon overtook coffee as the number one hot drink. One of the factors which probably helped tea's rise in consumption was cost. Coffee isn't grown in Turkey, but following earlier failed attempts to cultivate tea, it was discovered that a region existed with ideal growing conditions at the eastern end of the Black Sea coast. The mountain ranges running parallel to the Black Sea form an obstacle to rain clouds moving inland, resulting in plenty of rainfall for seaward facing slopes. As we recently discovered in our look at tea grown at altitude, this is just the sort of area where tea can flourish. Therefore, with a home grown source to rely on, tea became a far more affordable option than coffee.

We began the blog with mention of the çaydanlık, so perhaps you're wondering what it looks like and how it's used in the preparation of tea. The first part of the word, çay, is pronounced chai. No prizes then for guessing that it means tea! The çaydanlık is comparable to the Russian samovar and is simultaneously a teapot and a kettle. Water is boiled in the larger lower section, some of which is used to infuse the tea in the smaller teapot-shaped top half. The resulting brew is very concentrated, so the water in the lower section of the çaydanlık is added to each person's tea to create a drink of their preferred strength. Rather than cups or mugs, Turkish tea is served in small, tulip-shaped glasses. Milk is never added, though sugar often is, usually in the form of sugar cubes which some hold between the cheek and tongue while drinking.

In recent years Turkish apple tea has become popular with tourists travelling to Turkey, but traditionally it's black tea that the Turkish drink, often labelled Rize tea, after the province in which most of it is grown. Turkey comes fifth in the tea production league tables after China, India, Kenya and Sri Lanka, but exports only a small fraction of its harvest, as most is used for domestic consumption. Nevertheless, the Turkish tea industry has plans to bring more of its tea to the world market in the future, so perhaps in time it will surpass Turkish coffee in the global stakes just as it has done in its own nation!

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