Çay Time

It is so fecking hard to make a cup of tea in this place!  There is a reason why I like a teabag.  It is easy.  It is simple and it does not require a damn engineering degree just to complete the task.

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Before I go any further I wish to point out that at no stage has The Turk ever taught his yabanci (foreign wife) how to make either traditional Türk çay (tea) or kahve (coffee) so when the inevitable time came for me to attempt either of these two beverages it was going to prove a difficult task.  Earlier today I found myself without electricity but with the desire for a “cuppa”.  I bet you are wondering what I did.  Well I became the perfect yabanci eş and attempted to make some Türk tea – some real Türk tea.

My SIL recently gave me a çaydanlik (Türk teapot) as I suspect she was sick of tea bags when she came for a visit.  She also gave me a show and tell on how to correctly make çay.  There is an art in how to prepare Türk çay, pour Türk çay and even drink Türk çay however when SIL was giving me instruction I was a less than stellar student as I was more interested in the biscuits that she had brought over rather than how to make the tea itself (I mean, really, how hard could it be?).

I just want to remind you (in case you skipped it above) that The Turk has never taught me how to make çay so when you read below I imagine you will rally behind me at the suggestion that he has a little “accident” in the near future.

A çaydanlik consists of two separate pieces.  Crazy you would no doubt say.  The Chinese have been making tea for centuries without the need for two pots and my mother (along with her English ancestors) would have scoffed had I suggested that they had been doing it wrong for all these years but this is Turkey and in Turkey you need two pots.  I delved into my cloudy morning mind to recall Songul’s instructions on how to correctly make cay.

2 heaped spoons of çay – check. Water in the pots – check.  Put it on the stove – check.  Pride people.  I took the challenge and accepted my accolades when pride called my name.  Cok guzel Janey!

After about fifteen minutes the water in the bottom pot was boiling so I thought I should take it off the stove but the water in the top pot was nowhere near warm enough I put it on the cooktop to boil.  The Turk wandered past and stuck his larger than life nose in just as the top pot came to boil, “What are you doing?”

(“Building a rocket ship,” was the bitchy wife comment in my head)  Dutiful yabanci replies, “Making çay.”

“Well you can’t do that.”

The Turk proceeded to lecture me about what I was doing wrong and why I was doing it wrong (apparently you do not let the top pot boil as it will burn the leaves) and then gave me a little speech about “tea dust”.  Bitchy wife was beginning to get quite aggravated at this point but dutiful yabanci was still in complete control of my bodily vessel and set forth to make a fresh pot of çay with a smile.

2 heaped spoons of çay – check.  Rinsed for tea dust – check.  Water in the pots – check.  Put it on the stove – check.

The Turk called from the balcony, “Do you need any help?”

“No!”  Arsehole.

Another fifteen minutes had now passed and to be honest I really didn’t want a cup of tea anymore but I persevered as a good yabanci would.  About this time The Turk decided he should come and check my handiwork.  I mentioned that the water is still not hot in the top pot and out of his arrogant male mouth came this reply, “What?  You really have no idea what you are doing do you?”

Any hope of yabanci continuing to reside in this bodily vessel was just thrown out the window, “What the holy mother of all hell are you talking about?”

The Turk nudges me away from the stove and throws the contents of the top pot into the sink – yet again.

“You can’t use cold water.  You use the water from the bottom pot to heat the leaves.”

“How the feck am I supposed to know that?”  Yep bitchy wife is now in full possession of this vessel.

At this point the idea of pushing The Turk off the balcony came to mind.  He had washed the tiles on the balcony that morning and it was still a little slippery.  I stared at his measly body for a moment – I am certain that I could make this look like an accident.

Another 15 minutes now passes while The Turk’s çay simmers away on the stove.  Let’s just add all this time up.  45 minutes after I got the ridiculous notion in my head to have a cup of fecking tea I finally got a cup of fecking tea and if you are wondering if I can taste the difference between this fancy-smancy Turkish delicacy and a Jiggler-bag?  Nope, they taste the same to me.

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19 thoughts on “Çay Time

  1. The tears are rolling down my cheeks, this is so damn funny!
    I’m sorry (getting myself under control here). I think it was the biscuits that started it.
    As for a little accident? Does The Turk like mushrooms?????
    Brilliant post. And yes, tea bags rule in this house (I don’t have a tea pot AT ALL)

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  2. This post made my day! (I really admire your patience. I go from zero to bitchy wife in about 2.5 seconds.)

    In our previous apartment one of our neighbors was from Turkey; he brought us back a coffee pot and coffee after a trip home, but we moved a couple weeks later and have never figured out how to use them. If you learn how to make coffee, I’d appreciate a post about *that*!! 🙂

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  3. I laughed a lot reading this Jane! 😀 I was schooled on çay making by friends from the Black Sea – they insist that they make the best tea of course. It is even a bit more complicated than what you so wittily related in this post. I do have to say that their method tastes better to me than any other çay I have had…

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  4. It’s easy once you’ve got the hang of it – do it enough and you may even find (a decade or two down the track…) The Turk will like your tea more that his own. Then you will be in total control 🙂

    The great thing about the Turkish dual tea pot method is the tea doesn’t taste stewy, even several hours later. Just keep refilling the bottom pot, getting it to the boil and adding the hot water to the top.

    Making Turkish coffee is more subtle than Turkish tea so will require more practice. By the later stages of my time in Mersin my bosses liked the coffee I made more than the coffee made by the female Turkish employees 🙂

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    • It cracks me up when visiting the Government Departments (which I seem to be doing all the time at the moment) and there is always people running around with trays full of cay! It seems unreal when you imagine someone in Australia doing that. It’s the tea lady from the 1950’s.

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  5. Oh this really tickled me! Why wouldn’t you put water in both pots?! It seems so logical… What I hate is being landed with the job of pouring the damned tea when all the relatives are there. I always manage to screw it up – too strong, too weak, no tea strainer, boiling water on my hands, on other peoples’ hands… This is why the tea bag got invented.

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  6. Your writing is just hilarious! a great start to my working week … But this cay business, what a NIGHTMARE!!! I had no idea the Turks were so fanatic about this particular ritual. I’m about to make myself a cup with a tea bag and I’ve never been more grateful for the convenience.

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  7. Pingback: Turkish High Tea | janeyinmersin

  8. Pingback: I am a Selfish Bitch (apparently) | janeyinmersin

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