Turkish High Tea

The first thing you need to know about Turkey is that Turkish people love their cay (tea).  Man or woman they have their own distinct way of enjoying a cay and whether you drink it or not you are going to learn to love it.


The men can usually be found in a cay evi or tea house where they play cards, argue about futbol or politics and hide from their wives all the while drinking copious amounts of cay.  The women are usually too busy to spend their day in a cay evi as they have their chores around the home but once those chores are finished they can often be found getting together for a good gossip, cay and something delicious to nibble on.

On Monday I was informed that the neighbouring ladies wished to come to my house for gün.

Gün means day but it also has another meaning that you may not be so familar with. It is also the word for a home visit, where women visit one particular friend and eat pastries and drink cay. It is a very traditional custom here in the Village and it seemed it was going to be my turn next.

I kid you not when I tell you I almost shat myself at the idea.  Putting aside the fact that I don’t speak anywhere near enough Turkish to hold a social gathering I also make really crap cay.  The Turk arranged for my sister in law Songul to come and help host the get together (thankfully) so all I had to do was show up (and provide my home).

Thursday afternoon was chosen and sure enough at 1 pm my doorbell was ringing off the hook.  The Turk sensibly excused himself as soon as the first neighbour arrived and before I knew it there were 12 Turkish ladies from new mothers to a great, great grandmother arriving for cay and a good gossip.

As each lady arrived she handed over a plate of sweets or cakes and these were added to the biscuits I had purchased from the patisserie that morning along.  My kitchen was overflowing with food!


Of course I had no idea what was going on most of the time and was so thankful that Songul was there to host the event.  I spent most of my time handing out kahve and cay, ensuring that everyone had enough to eat, giving tours of my home (as most of them had not been before and giving them something to gossip about next time they get together) and chasing My Hurley Dog away from the teyze (aunt) who was allergic to dogs.  I listened as they talked about their husbands, babies, neighbours, me, The Turk and just about anything else they could possibly gossip about.


By 4:30 pm it was time for the ladies to be on their way as they needed to go and start dinner for their husbands, children, family, neighbour, friends, visitors, etc.  A final round of cay was drunk along with pieces of Turkish Delight before the ladies started for the door.  Lots of kisses and invites for visits before I could throw myself on the couch and process the afternoon.  It seems I now have to go and visit each of them and thank them for coming and have cay with them.  This Turkish socialising is exhausting.


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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.


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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