Tea drinking in Turkey actually dates back to the 1600s. According to one legend, Coffeehouses, recently introduced by the Syrians into mainstream Turkish culture, had quickly become places where men would gather to drink coffee, puff on hookahs, play tabli, and discuss the affairs of the day. But around 1633, after a series of fires caused by hookahs swept through the land, an angry sultan ordered all the coffeehouses to be closed. People switched to tea – and life went on as usual.
Black tea (called Cay) is the most popular tea in Turkey. Similar to Russia, tea in Turkey is made very strong, then mixed with hot water to your desired strength. Turkey ranks fifth in both consumption and production of tea in the world. The offering of tea or coffee is considered an act of friendship, so wherever you may go in Turkey, you will likely be offered tea, whether it is before or after a meal.
In Turkey and Russia, tea is often stored and served from a Samovar. Samovar’s come in all shapes and sizes, but in essence is a large vat, made of metal, that is heated through a pipe inserted through the vat. The Samovar contains hot water and generally has room on the top to hold a tea kettle.