Tea time in Turkey doesn’t seem to actually have a specific time. It seemed like whenever I was out and about on the streets, people were always having tea, any time of day or night. One of my most vivid memories of this new and curious culture was seeing locals sitting outside, enjoying tea which other. The narrow streets of Istanbul were spotted with store keepers and friends, sitting on their tiny sidewalks, smoking cigarettes, chatting, and enjoying tea. Sometimes you would hear them shouting to the tea house a few doors down ordering their glasses, while shortly thereafter, someone would briskly walk across the street with a tray of teas hanging from their arms, ready to be served to the patrons.
In the beginning of my trip, I didn’t realize the significance of tea in Turkish culture. And naturally, I was curious to see what it tasted like, being that I do drink my share of tea. So after the first official meal in Istanbul, my friend and I ordered some tea to finish things off .
Almost all teas were served in small, tulip shaped glasses about the size of an espresso cup, on a tiny saucer, with two cubes of sugar and a demitasse spoon. But at one of the restaurants we visited, we actually got a whole pot. When enjoyed straight, the tea is quite bitter, which is why sugar comes with it. And although it was small enough to finish in one quick gulp, its flavor forces you to take small sips. This in turn, allows you to enjoy your company, if you have any, or to at least enjoy your surroundings.
My travel buddy and I found ourselves more frequently stopping for tea throughout our trip. It especially came in handy when we were tired and needed a break from walking. But above all that, it gave us the opportunity to really stop for a short moment, enjoy the view of wherever we were, talk about the trip and appreciate our exciting adventure.
That is what tea time in Turkey is all about. Showing hospitality and signs of friendship. By the end of the trip, we understood what that meant. Sometimes the simplest things can can not only be appreciated, but make you aware of how important it is to appreciate them. And in those moments, we were the happiest!