How to Make Turkish Tea

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Tea in Turkey is served in a short, tulip-shaped glass.
Tea in Turkey is served in a short, tulip-shaped glass. (Image: RJPINNEY/iStock/Getty Images)

Turkish tea aficionados talk of the four rules of the lip: Tea should be the color of lips, served at a temperature that doesn’t burn the lips, poured to the lip of the glass, and tannic enough to leave a pleasantly bitter aftertaste on the lips. For the uninitiated, Turkey's national brew might be surprisingly strong, but it cleanses the palate nonetheless. A double-stacked kettle or samovar is the authentic brewing vessel, but a conventional teapot will also brew perfectly good tea.

Things You'll Need

  • Kettle
  • Teapot or samovar
  • Loose leaf black Rize tea
  • Strainer
  • Small, heatproof glasses or cups
  • Sugar

Home Brew

Boil water in a kettle. Soft, chalk- and chloride-free water gives the cleanest brew, so use bottled water if local tap water is unsuitable.

Sluice the teapot, whether metal or porcelain, with boiling water and rinse it out, to warm the pot and avoid sapping heat from the water unnecessarily.

Add a teaspoonful of loose leaf black Rize tea per person to the warm pot. Slowly pour in the boiling water. Use just enough water to soak the leaves and release the color and flavors. Allow the tea to steep for 15 minutes.

Pour the tea through a strainer into a cup or heat-resistant glass. For a full-strength brew, fill the cup to just below the rim. For a light, refreshing tea, fill the cup half- or quarter-way and top up with hot water from the kettle.

Add sugar only, no milk. Some Turkish producers flavor their tea with bergamot, and some drinkers add a slice of lemon, but otherwise the natural flavor of the tea is the focal point.

Authentic Tea

Brew Turkish tea in the authentic Black Sea style by using a double-stacked kettle, which has a large pot underneath for brewing the tea, and a smaller pot above for adding water.

Pour boiling water over the leaves into the lower kettle and fill the smaller pot with boiling water only. The small kettle has its own lid, and fits into the opening of the one below to seal in the steam and aromas. Leave the tea to steep for 15 minutes.

Pour the brewed tea through a strainer into a Turkish tea glass, a tulip-shaped glass with no handle. Leave enough space to hold the glass around the rim without scalding the fingers. Add sugar according to taste.

Tips & Warnings

  • Turkish tea can be difficult to find overseas and the best option is usually to order it online. The majority of tea production in Turkey is still controlled by the Directorate of Tea Establishments, and carries the Caykur label.
  • Tea should be stored in an airtight container and usually expires after two years.
  • Do not stir or shake the teapot while the tea is steeping. The dried, fermented leaves will infuse the water with a mahogany color all by themselves.
  • Discard any remaining tea after 30 minutes as the tannins will be too strong.

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