To share tea and bright conversation with a Turkish friend is one of life’s great joys. The simple act of its preparation brings the sense of calm and familiarity upon which great friendships are built, stories shared, and occasions celebrated. All the elements of this familiar and reassuring ritual – the preparation, the aroma, the pouring, the clink of the tea glass – bring comfort to the Turkish heart.
It was interesting to learn that Turkey is the world’s leading consumer of tea, ahead of the UK. It took me awhile to discover that the true Turkish “cuppa” was not really the sweet, tourist-focused elma çayı (apple tea) of Istanbul, but rather the rich, dark ruby-coloured, aromatic black tea from the moist, mountainous region around Rize, by the eastern Black Sea.
At the heart of every Turkish kitchen is the çaydanlık, the traditional double-decker teapot. It’s a special moment when your Turkish friend hands you your very first çaydanlık. Hopefully, you’ve just made a çay-buddy, friend for life. A future of wonderful, warm conversation, friendship and steaming cays lie ahead!
As I recently discovered at this sale in Antalya, the çaydanlık also comes in an electric plug-in and boil version. Doesn’t seem right at all.
Every Turk has their own favourite brew. Çaydanlık technique seems to be pretty consistent. Here is my current favourite:
Bilge’s Magic Brew (from deepest, darkest Esenyaka, Suşehri)
- Fill the lower pot with water and heat (medium)
- One tablespoon of Mevlâna Sade Yaprak Çay (Goran-Tee) – upper pot
- Two tablespoons of Çaykur Filiz Çay – upper pot
- Throw in a few fresh cloves (karanfil) – upper pot
- Rinse the dry tea leaves – add half pot of tap water to upper pot, swill and drain (almost)
- Dry the leaves – by returning upper pot to position on heating lower pot
- When almost dry – add boiling water from the lower pot to the top pot (almost full)
- Top up the lower pot
- Bring to boil slowly (10-12 minutes) – tea leaves should have sunk to bottom
- Pour and serve tea (upper pot) in a classic Turkish tulip glass
- Dilute with boiling water from the lower pot to taste
- Add sugar to taste (optional)
- Afiyet olsun! (makes about 4-5 glasses of tea)