Jerkin’ it in Istanbul – Turkey’s Signature Chai

Posted: March 19, 2012 by jerkmagblog in VAULT -- archives, ZONE -- syracuse

Small but efficient, unsweetened or a little tart, it’s a satisfying thirst and conversation quencher. Similar to Starbucks’ most popular “caramel macchiato,” Turkish tea can not be resisted.

Served in a tulip-shaped glass vase, it is prepared with two kettles – the larger kettle on the bottom heats the water to a boil while the smaller, top kettle is used to seep the tea to desired strengths. Not dependent on the machine to steam the milk and stir the contents, Turkish tea is a simple and an enjoyable delight.

The fake customer-barista relationship that forms when you are asked for your name when ordering a “caramel macchiato” doesn’t exist. The repetitive decorations of green wallpaper and wooden furniture that line every Starbucks interior with an essence of naturalness isn’t seen either. Rather, the teahouses in Istanbul are ornamentally decorated with unique charms from different centuries, the necessary ashtray, glass lanterns that suspend from the ceilings, and small tables fit for only two. Interaction between customer and barista is more of a friendly greeting and the atmosphere is often more inviting too.

For thousands of years, tea has been an essential part of the Turkish culture. Domestically sustained on the eastern coast of the Black Sea, it is an ideal product to ritualize upon without the worrying of expense for importation. Similar to the growing Starbucks that hasn’t yet managed to sneak onto ever corner of Istanbul, Turkey’s tea market, too is expanding. Most popular in the 20th century, Turkey has become among the largest of tea markets in the world.

-Beatrice Schachenmayr


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