October 2, 2023
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Turkish coffee is famous, but have you heard of Turkish tea? What makes them so distinctive, and is there more than one way to prepare them? We tackle these questions and more in today’s blog, which is all about Turkey’s two most famous hot beverages.
Turkish coffee is quite simply just a way of preparing coffee. The beans are roasted and ground very finely (even more finely than an espresso grind). The coffee is boiled with sugar in a small pot, usually copper, called a “cezve”, and served in a demitasse cup, in which the grounds settle. One fun fact: the Turkish word for breakfast (kahvaltı literally means “before coffee.”
How does one prepare it? Unless you happen to have a special grinder for Turkish coffee, you will need to buy the coffee already ground, as most grinders will not make a fine enough powder for Turkish coffee.
A traditional cup will use about 3 ounces of water and one to two heaping teaspoons of coffee. The grounds are added (with sugar to taste) to the water and stirred in until the grounds sink. They are then heated over a moderately low heat, so as not to cook the coffee too quickly, and removed from the heat just when it reaches the boiling point. The coffee is usually left to sit for a few minutes, then put back on the heat and brought to the boiling point again. This can be repeated a third time before serving.
Don’t stir the coffee while it’s cooking, as it will disturb the foam, one of the trademarks of Turkish coffee. It is served piping hot, sometimes with Turkish Delight or another sweet, and a glass of water. Remember not to drink to the bottom of the cup! The last bit of the coffee is the thick, brown sludge famously used for telling fortunes, much like reading tea leaves.
And speaking of tea leaves….
Tea is actually Turkey’s top hot beverage, and a cultural staple. If you visit any Turkish household, you are sure to be offered a cup of tea. The type of tea is called çay or rize tea (this last because it is grown in the Rize provence along the Black Sea). Considered a black tea, when brewed it is a lovely reddish color, a darker red if taken dark (“demli”), or lighter if taken weak (“açik”). It is traditionally served in a transparent glass tea cup, which allows the beautiful color to shine through, placed on a small saucer, and accompanied by a couple cubes of beetroot sugar. In Turkey it is prepared in a special double kettle, with one stacked atop the other, which produces a very strong brew that can then be diluted according to an individual’s wishes.
Whatever you beverage of choice, tea and coffee drinking in Turkey is a rich, social experience, one you will enjoy again and again on any trip to Turkey!
By Peg Kern
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