Turkish Tea

Çay

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

Appears in

Classic Turkish Cooking

By Ghillie Basan

Published 1995

  • About

Traditionally tea was made in a samovar. This is often an elaborate vessel with a compartment for burning coals at the bottom of an internal tube, which heats the water in the ‘kettle’ section that wraps around it, on top of which rests a small teapot in which the tea brews over the rising heat. The teapot and tea glasses are topped up with boiling water from a tap at the side of the kettle section. Although the samovar is still used, most people prefer the practical, if crude, modern version which consists of a small tin or enamel teapot, sitting on top of a large tin teapot which, in turn, is heated over a flame.

Rize, on the Black Sea coast, keeps Turkey supplied with tea, which is invariably made strong — a measure of 1 teaspoon per person — but individual glasses can easily be weakened with the constant supply of boiling water from the lower teapot. Although lemon peel is sometimes added to the tea-leaves, the method of brewing remains the same. Turkish tea is never drunk with milk.

Method

  • To make the tea, fill the larger pot with water and put over a flame. Select the tea-leaves of your choice, then put the required quantity into the smaller pot, with ½ teaspoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon of water to moisten them, and place it on top of the larger pot. When the water has boiled, fill the smaller teapot, replace it on top of the larger one, and put them over a low flame. Let the tea brew for a further 4-5 minutes, then pour some into a tea glass and top it up with the boiled water from the lower teapot. In this manner, tea can be drunk all day if the bottom pot is filled regularly with water and the tea is refreshed from time to time with new leaves and a little extra sugar.