Turkey currently ranks as the world's 5th largest producer of teas. In 2018, the country produced about 260,000 metric tons of black tea alone. What is amazing, though, is that the bigger part of its production is consumed domestically. Turkish people pride themselves in being the nation that drinks the most amount of tea per capita! Statistically, a Turkish adult drinks almost 6 kilos of tea each year (compared to the Brits who consume about 2 kilos per year, or to Chinese people who consume about 0.6 kilos each year).
How much tea is that, you wonder?
Let me help you imagine. As I have personally witnessed in the years that I have spent in Turkey, an average Turkish person drinks about 10-15 cups of black tea everyday! With very little exception, you will find a tea kettle sitting on the stove all day and night in every household, office, or building in the country. Anywhere you turn, there’s either a tea shop or restaurant that sells tea (even if you don’t order anything else) or a store that gives free tea to anyone who’s interested (even if you’re not thirsty). To say that Turkish people love to drink tea is an understatement. If you ask me, I’d say they will die if they cannot drink their tea! Seriously.
Now to my purpose in writing this blog. I’d like to share with you how to brew a perfect cup of Turkish black tea using traditional stove-top Turkish double tea kettle.
Stop right there. Before going any further, read 2 sentences back—yes, I said “double kettle.” Turkish people use a unique contraption of 2 stacked tea kettles (Turkish: çaydanlık), with the smaller kettle containing “concentrated tea” sitting on top of a bigger kettle containing only hot water. Turkish people use this double kettle even if they are drinking alone. If you’re new to the habit, I would recommend that you buy the smallest size, or you can just decrease the proportions that you’ll brew.
1. Put 2 cups of water in the small kettle and 4 cups of water in the big kettle. Stack them on top of each other (obviously the small one goes on top of the big one), and bring them to a boil. As with any beverage, remember that the quality of water that you use makes a lot of difference. The ideal PH level should be between 6.5 to 8.5 (which means it shouldn’t be too acidic). Avoid using pre-heated water that has been left sitting to cool. Once it boils, lower down the heat, just enough to keep the water in the bottom kettle to remain at 98-99C (near boiling).
2.Take the small kettle out of the stove and let the water slightly cool down to 95-98C. Add half-cup of authentic Turkish black tea “on top of the boiled water.” This is a very important point to remember. But what difference does it make if you do it the other way around, pouring the boiled water over the tea? The reason for this is because the boiling water will burn the tea. It scalds and the tea doesn't release all of its maximum flavors. Now you know a big secret!!!
3. Put the small kettle back on top of the big kettle. Leave it to brew for 15-20 minutes. How do you know that it’s ready? When you see the leaves of the tea has completely passed into the water and settled at the bottom of the kettle, it means it’s ready to be served. For reference purposes in this blog, let’s call this your “concentrated tea."
4. More secrets!!! While brewing:
a. Cover the spout of the top/small kettle with a stopper to prevent loss of the tea aroma. This process will make your tea more aromatic and delicious.
b. Keep the water in the bottom kettle "just near boiling.” If it boils and the steam goes to the top kettle, your tea will be bitter and stale.
5. Time to fill up your authentic Turkish tea cup! First pour concentrated tea up to the middle of the cup (half-full), then dilute it with boiled water from the bottom kettle. You can consider this proportion as a starting benchmark. For stronger tea, use more concentrated tea. For lighter tea, use more boiled water. It took me little time to realize that this double-kettle contraption is also a way of accommodating the taste preferences of different people when sharing the pot!
6.If you’re not serving all of your teas at once, put the kettles back on the stove, keeping the water in the bottom kettle at 98-99C. You can let it sit there for as long as there is water in both kettles.
7.Types of Turkish black tea - Quality-wise, there’s a lot of different kinds of Turkish black tea ranging from the cheap CTC variety to organic broken leaves. Flavor-wise, there’s also a large selection depending on which region in Turkey it was grown. The only way to know which is best for you is to try as many varieties as you can. Personally, I would recommend though that the ideal way to begin your adventure is to choose a “Grade 2 or 3” (the highest quality, organic, would be a grade 1) from the Rize region.
8.Have you noticed the unique tulip-shape of Turkish tea cups? More than just the sexiness of it, there’s actually a science behind it. Turkish people like their teas piping hot. With other types of tea cups, the entire content cools down at the same time. With the unique shape of the Turkish tea cup, however, the top portion cools down (so you don’t burn your mouth) but the bottom part remains hot. Isn’t that amazing?
If you have any questions, please feel free to message us anytime! If the pandemic is over, and you have time to come to Turkey, we’d be more than happy to take you on a tea-hopping adventure! Meanwhile, allow us to bring to you the adventure of Turkish black tea through our products which have been carefully and tastefully selected for your more discriminating palette!