Gather round, Steepsterites, because I am going to have probably one of the most interesting teas of a long time now.
I have a colleague, a turkish girl, and she asked me, “Have you ever had Turkish tea?”
I told her I had once. I’ve never been to Turkey, but I’ve studied with a turkish girl and once when we were writing a paper to do with some questionnaires she had asked her uncle to take a stack with him to the mosque next time he went. He invited us for tea, so she could explain to him what the questionnaires were about. Her aunt made traditional turkish tea for us.
Then we talked about about how to brew it and my colleague told me that while they do drink a lot of that apple tea, they also drink a lot of plain black tea, taken with sugar. They brew it so strong that it’s nearly undrinkable without sugar, and my colleague gave me this that she had and never drank at home and explained to me how to brew it like a turkish person would. Of course I didn’t write it down at the time, thinking it was easy enough to remember, but when I came home I still had to google it. I found this site (http://turkish-food.suite101.com/article.cfm/turkish_tea) which has guidelines for brewing. It rang a bell, so I feel pretty confident that this is also how my colleague told me to do.
1. Prepare a small teapot by adding about one heaping teaspoon of good, black tea (Keemun, Assam, Russian Caravan, English Breakfast all work well) per cup.
2. Boil about 1 cup of water per cup of tea (either in a samovar – or on a stove top).
3. Pour HALF of the steaming water into the teapot and let it steep for at least 15 minutes, keeping both the teapot and the remaining water piping hot. (Without a samovar, you can accomplish this with a good tea cozy for the pot and a very low flame for the water. (I almost hate to admit it, but a microwave works pretty well, too, for keeping the water very hot…. but I “didn’t say that…”).
4. Pour the tea into a small glass cup, about halfway up, and add the water to fill the remainder. Add sugar to taste – BUT NEVER MILK OR HONEY.
Read more at Suite101: Turkish Tea: Brewing and Drinking Tea in Turkey http://turkish-food.suite101.com/article.cfm/turkish_tea#ixzz0chWxExdO
So now I’m wondering what sort of leaves she has actually given me. They don’t have a very strong aroma. Ever so slightly smoky-ish is about the only characteristic I can pick up. It’s a quite large leaf size for a black though. Since my colleague actually travels to visit her husband’s family in Turkey at least once a year, I wonder if I could be so lucky that it was actually a tea produced in Turkey. Think about it, it’s not that unlikely. It would be cool if it was. I may have to interrogate her some on this matter. She gave me a relatively small amount. Big for a sample, but small for an amount to have lying around when one never takes tea. I’m not sure if that was what she meant but it did sound like, if I liked it, she had more that I could have. Anyway, the leaves look a bit faded in colour, so they’re probably getting a bit on in age. With this method of brewing, though, I can’t imagine it would spell disaster.
Five minutes still to go of this extremely long steep!
Okay, ready for the next step! Obviously, I don’t own the proper tulip-shaped tea glasses, so my cup with the farm animals on it will have to do. I tried a sip of the tea before adding more water to the cup. It had a nice reddish amberish colour and while it did have a strong flavour, it wasn’t undrinkably strong. Not at the one small sip, anyway. Quite astringent, but it didn’t taste bitter or oversteeped.
After adding water the taste was a little less astringent, but still not undrinkably strong. I was expecting something almost tar-like here and I’m actually wondering if I didn’t add enough leaf. I think I was supposed to have made it with another spoonful.
I feel pretty certain that I could easily have taken it without a grain of sugar and enjoyed it, but I’m trying to be authentic here. I did wonder about whether the type of sugar used was important since the instructions said to not use milk or honey. I’ve decided they probably would have said if it was, so I used cane sugar.
The aroma is very similar to the dry leaf. Not as smokey, though, which I think must be because of the sugar in it.
It’s definitely sweet to the taste. If you want a dessert tea, forget about any odd additives and flavouring, because this is a dessert in a cup. I can’t really pick up anything underneath the sweetness though. It’s a flavour where you’re aware that there is tea there, but apart from a light astringency, I can’t really tell you anything about it. I know it’s odd to my colleague that I can drink tea at all without sugar in it, so it’s supposed to be very sweet, but the unobtrusiveness and the lack of strongness of the black tea, only strengthens my belief that I should have used a spoonful more leaves.
Still, I used a third more leaf than usual (should probably have been double) and I steeped it for a quarter of an hour. I’m shocked that it didn’t turn out stronger! I’ll have to try again though, but for now… I don’t know if I’m really a big fan of tea turkish style, but I think I might rather like it as a rare treat rather than a regular occurence.
eta: why is it the quoted bit refuses to be in italics? What am I doing wrong? squints at it