The importance of food in the Turkish culture is indisputable. The very same importance goes to a variety of traditional drinks. Some will warm you up in the winter months, while others will quench your thirst in the height of summer as you bathe in the Aegean Sea. Here are some traditional Turkish drinks you should definitely try!
One of the oldest methods of preparing coffee awaits you. The unique taste consists of fluffy foam, rich dark coffee and the slight bitterness of ground beans. Turkish coffee is one of the very few types of coffee that is actually boiled, drank and then famously the ground beans at the bottom of the cup are read by a fortune teller, or if you are lucky, a well-spoken, imaginative friend. The design of the thin-lipped cup and the protective foam, keeps the coffee hotter for longer as you enjoy each sip.
Drinking coffee after a good meal plays a huge role in Turkish tradition. That’s why it’s important to save space for it. A cold glass of water is always served next to your coffee. This is to cleanse the palate. In local neighbourhoods, Turkish coffee is a symbol of friendship and if you are ever offered a cup, it’s always polite to accept it. A Turkish proverb says a cup of coffee has 40 years of respect.
Turkish tea, with its history dating back 5000 years, has become the center of most social activities. It complements the Turkish culture today. Turkey is by far one of the leading consumers of tea.
Rize, located in the eastern Black Sea region is where you’ll find most if not all the tea plantations in Turkey. Leaves go through a number of processes during harvesting and then brewed to perfection. The locals are constantly drinking it and will always offer it to guests throughout the day and even after a meal. Once you fall in love with the hospitality and culture, it may be difficult for you to leave!
Ayran ( Buttermilk)
Buttermilk is made by adding water to plain yoghurt. It is one of the many gifts the Turks have given to the world. If you love yoghurt you’ll love the freshness and taste of buttermilk just as much. Easily made at any time of the day, this healthy drink is a favourite among locals and travellers alike. To fully experience the refreshment, be sure to drink it cold.
Turkish Boza is a smoothie-like fermented drink that is mainly based on cracked wheat and yeast. It has a sweet and tangy flavour that everyone finds addictive! When we think of Turkish winters, often the thought of boza pops into our heads. This drink originated from ancient Anatolia, made up then of wheat, corn, rice and barley. Known for its magnificent health properties, reducing blood pressure and high in potassium, this warm drink is usually served with roasted chickpeas.
Easily found in shops all over the country. More authentically though is the traditional transit sellers walking the streets at night shouting “BOOOOOZAAAAAAAA”. Just hearing the call on a cold winter’s night will sure warm you up.
Şalgam Suyu (Pickled Turnip Juice)
Pickled turnip juice or just known as turnips when ordering comes from the mustard family. This interestingly tangy beverage is very popular in the Cukurova (South Central) region of Turkey. Places like Mersin, Adana, and Hatay are among the origins. These beets are mixed with water and salt to create a simple pickle. The redness comes from using black carrots. A popular drink to accompany heavy meat dishes.
One of Turkey’s best known and popular drinks is Rakı. (Yes the “I” doesn’t have a title on top of it.) A colourless, alcoholic beverage always served with water and usually with ice. Most people mix in the water and ice to turn it into a smoother, milky looking drink. Rakı is made from processing anise and grapes. You’ll find many people enjoying a glass or two after work at sunset with friends, listening to music, enjoying some mezes and chatting the night away. Cheers!