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Turkey – Tea with the Locals

Yes, the British and the Japanese have their tea customs and rituals, and I wouldn’t want to take away from the special nature of either of those cultures. But if I had to choose where I would most like to have a cup of tea with the locals, it would be Turkey. Tea shops are a focal point for street level Turkish culture and most good things happen in the presence of a cup of fine Turkish tea. The Turkish people prefer the black tea (or Cay in Turkish) and it is at the center of daily life there, offered everywhere as a gesture of hospitality both before and after meals. Because the drink is served strong, it is typically offered in small cups, boiling hot. The locals drink it sweet, but with no milk, and cut to taste with additional hot water. Find a traditional setting with cushions on the floor and low copper tables or sit at an outdoor cafe, but slow down, relax and enjoy.

Tea is a good place to begin understanding how to visit Turkey. This is a land of relationships, where time sits still to permit you to go about getting to know your surroundings. Here, travelers are welcomed and greeted with both respect and curiosity. The antiquities, thermal pools, coastline and Turkish baths are all there waiting to be explored, but it is in the marketplace with the people that Turkey is best experienced, because it is there that the warmth and culture of this ancient civilization is authentically expressed.

Besides the tea, here is a short list of “must do” experiences when you visit Turkey:

Turkey is not a destination to hurry through. Experience it slowly, like a fine cup of hot, black Turkish tea.

 

 

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