Turkish Tea Etiquette

I learnt quite a few things on my transit visit to Turkey and my love for tea, got me enthused in understanding the Turkish tea culture. 

You may be surprised to know that Turkey is the sixth largest producer of tea in the world and the Turks are the number one consumers of tea. 

In Turkey, tea is often served with Turkish delight. Most tourists’ desks at the Turkish airport would briefly inform you about the Turkish Tea culture by first offering you Tea. This also happens even while you make an enquiry. 

Turkish tea is also served at the different lounges at the airport. Tea, is offered almost everywhere. It is indeed, considered a gesture of hospitality. In return, you’re not advised to turn down this gesture. You’re to accept the gesture with a smile. Except, on health grounds, you may politely decline. 

I was particularly piqued by the unique shape of the Turkish Tea glass which, unlike a typical Tea cup has no handle. The uniquely curved tea glass is handled differently. It is held by the lip.

When drinking Turkish tea, as with most teas, you never add milk. You may add water intermittently to dilute the tea, which sometimes steeps longer.

It is worthy to note that when at the table with others, your cup will always be refilled by the closest to you once your cup is less than half full. Your neighbor is obliged to refill your cup. You must never pour your own drink. As a matter of courtesy, you must be alert throughout the meal to ascertain whether your neighbor’s cup or glass needs refilling. If he or she does not return the gesture, you should not refill it yourself. This could be perceived as embarrassing. You may diplomatically indicate your need by pouring a little more tea into your neighbour’s glass, even if it doesn’t warrant it. This serves as a prompter. This is a beautiful culture that encourages social synchronisation. 

Tea is so significant  in the lives of Turks that they have a saying that “Conversations without tea are like a night sky without the moon.” 

Etiquette is rooted in the culture of the people and learning the acceptable codes of behaviour of others when visiting a new place will definitely set you apart as an elegant person. 

Etienying Akpanusong.

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