Feature: Tea-mad Turks develop distinctive, intriguing tea culture

Source: Xinhua| 2019-01-20 02:19:26|Editor: Li Xia
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by Burak Akinci

ANKARA, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- Tea is an important part of the Turkish culture with one Turk consuming 1,300 cups of tea every year on average.

Refusing a cup of tea is considered impolite in the country.

Tea was only introduced to Turkey fewer than 150 years ago from Japan.

In the early 1920s, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Turkish Republic, started to encourage the drinking of tea, which was more affordable for the majority of the population as repercussions of World War I impacted coffee's imports for the newly founded country.

Nowadays, even though coffee houses are popular in big cities as part of a latest global trend, tea is still the favorite drink of the Turkish people.

Serdar Ersahin, head of the Istanbul-based coffee house association, said Turks consume generally around 3-5 cups of tea daily and this number increases to 10 during the cold winter season.

As one of the top six tea-growing nations across the world, Turkey produces six to 10 percent of the global tea and exported tea to 93 countries in the first half of 2018, according to the data from Eastern Black Sea Exporters Association.

Shopkeepers in Turkey often offer customers a Turkish tea as a sign of friendship and hospitality.

Tea gardens, or Cay bahcesi in Turkish, are spread across the country.

"We come here quite often to drink tea. It has a very cozy atmosphere. And it is also an opportunity to escape from the daily rat race," said Aykut Goncu, a 38-year-old civil engineer, who was sipping at a strong black tea in a simple and traditional tea house in the capital Ankara.

"If I don't drink four or five glasses of tea per day, I get irritable," he added.

One of his tea companions pointed out that drinking tea is a "pretext" for one-hour meeting with each other for good conversation during the day.

"Some may prefer alcohol to relax but my main choice is tea," said Ozcan, a teacher in a private school.

In workplaces, besides the modern tea-bags, one can generally finds a pot of tea brewing.

Unlike other countries, full flavored Turkish tea is so strong that it has to be served in small tulip-shaped glasses which are usually held by the rim and placed on a saucer.

Tea brewing in Turkey is also different from the western-styled ones. Turks usually make their tea using a double-stacked teapot.

Tea leaves are steeped in the upper smaller teapot, while water is boiled in the lower bigger teapot which is ultimately poured in the upper one at the proper time defined by the person preparing it.

The simple beverage takes a special place in the country and brings together people from all social classes.