Tea is synonymous with Turkish culture. Nary will a guest ever visit a household without being offered a cup of tea. Coffee became more expensive in Turkey following the fall of the great Ottoman Empire and thus tea began its rise to popularity as an alternative. In Turkey, one will drink tea from smaller, tulip-shaped clear glasses that are usually held on to by the rim so the drinker’s fingers aren’t burned; Turkish tea is served at boiling temperatures.
Surprisingly, Turkish tea is fairly young compared to the thousands of years of history behind tea. Though some historical records indicate that the Turks consumed and also traded tea as early as 400 BC, we can be more certain that tea became a very common drink throughout Turkey in the very early 20th century. The first stabs at tea growing in Turkey happened in the late 1800s in Bursa but with unfavorable conditions, a success it wasn’t. Turkish parliament implemented some rules surrounding tea growing in 1924 to the Black Sea’s eastern region. About a decade after, black tea seeds by the tons were brought in from Georgia to begin initial phases of Turkish nurseries throughout the region. Tea cultivation was boosted further when additional laws which supported and protected growers were passed. Today, tea is second only to water in Turkey; almost 800 square meters of land is used to grow tea in modern Turkey.
Black tea is most commonly drunk in Turkey. In Turkey black tea is called çay, which is prounced "chai.” Drunk without milk, black tea is produced on the east coast of the Black Sea which has milder temperatures than the rest of the country. Turkish tea, including black tea, is made using two kettles which are stacked on upon the other, called caydanluk. The bottom kettle boils the water; the boiled water is put in the smaller top kettle with tea leaves, which are then steeped creating very strong, black brew. Individuals dilute the offered tea as they like with the remaining water in the bottom kettle.
Tisanes are varieties of herbal teas and in Turkey, are not thought of as “real” tea but as medication. Tourists are the biggest consumers of Turish tisanes including rose hip, apple, and linden flower. In the coastal, Mediterranean regions “island tea” which is sage tisane, is most favored. Tisanes are easily found by looking around local herbal stores where loose shoots, petals, and leaves are sold individually.