What is Turkish Tea and How to Brew It Properly?

Called çay, (pronounced chai), tea in Turkey is relatively a new phenomenon. Despite the fact that it was Turkey where first coffee (read: Turkish coffee) was consumed as a drink and first coffee shops originated, Turkey today is more of tea culture. Following World War I, coffee, an imported product, became very expensive, and Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, introduced black tea grown in the homeland, more specifically in the province of Rize, which is why Turkish tea is sometimes called Rize tea.

How do you make Turkish tea?

Turkish tea is made from the processed tea plants, grown in Rize in the Black Sea region of the country. Traditionally, a Turkish tea kettle or a Turkish teapot set is used. A Turkish teapot set is made of two parts, the top one of which is used to infuse the tea leaves while the bottom part is used to keep boiled water. You pour boil water into the top part of the teapot set, called demlik, and leave the set on the stove to steep.

Turkish people do not add extra ingredients into the tea during steeping such as cardamom or herbs. When the tea is steeped well enough, the tea is poured into special Turkish teacups made of glass with no handle. Turkish people prefer to drink their tea in glass containers because they can tell the quality or “steeped-ness” of tea from its color. Turkish tea does not include milk like English tea, but Turkish people add lemon in their tea occasionally. And since you have different pots for infused tea and boiled water, you can set the level of the heaviness of your tea, which Turkish people specify with terms such as “weak or light tea” or “strong or heavy tea.” 

Health benefits of Turkish tea

Turkish tea is black tea, so it includes all the health benefits that black tea can offer. Some of the health benefits of Turkish tea are helping to decrease the risk of advanced cancer thanks to its increased levels of flavonoids and the aflavins. Black tea is seen as a natural way to reduce cancerous growth cells. The caffeine found in tea can ease headaches and promote mental health. 

Black tea has the highest amount of caffeine among tea varieties; however, the amount of caffeine in black tea is still less than in coffee, which makes it a more balanced energy and alertness booster. Other than these, the polyphenols found in black tea are antioxidants that can help protect cells from DNA damage. A study found that drinking tea regularly may lower the risk of diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, high cholesterol, and kidney stone.  

Nutritional values of Turkish tea

Like all other types of tea, Turkish tea contains polyphenols, manganese, fluoride, caffeine, potassium, proteins, carbos, amino acids, and several minerals such as magnesium and zinc. Turkish tea also contains catechins, tannins, and guanine.