Drinks in Turkey: 5 drinks that Turks love

Every culture has drinks they are known for. The culture can range anywhere from a city like Miami with the Cafecito to a national drink like Vodka in Russia. Regardless how big the culture is, they often have a drink that is special to them.

Turkey is no different. While Turkish coffee is probably the most well known around the world, I would dare to bet that it isn’t the most popular among the Turks, however.

But the most well known is definitely not the most love by the Turks. Let’s take a look at the 5 Drinks in Turkey you MUST try. As you read, can you guess which is the most popular?

Turkish Coffee one of the most famous drinks in Turkey

1. Turkish Coffee

Turkish Coffee can be found in many different varieties, which I will compare in another post coming soon!

What sets Turkish Coffee apart is how it is made not the beans it uses.

The grounds are special because they are ground so fine that they are like powder.

Turkish Coffee is so important that in 2013 UNESCO added it to the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.

Cezve - Turkish Coffee Pot
Turkish Coffee is made with a special pot called a Cezve.

The first “coffee shop” called Kiva Han was reportedly opened in Constantinople (Istanbul) in the 1470s.

When you purchase it at a local restaurant, you can order it three ways with regard to sugar.

Sade = without sugar \ Orta şekerli = medium sugar \ Tatlı = sweet

It is typically served with a sweet (lokum) and a small glass of water.

To make Turkish Coffee, the water, coffee grounds and any sugar that is desired is brought to a boil in the Cezve.

It boils until it froths but before it boils over and is then poured into a coffee cup called kahve fincanı.

Because the coffee grounds are boiled with the water and poured directly into the coffee cup, you will have lots of grounds in your coffee.

As tempting as it may be to drink immediately, let it settle. After a few minutes, your coffee grounds will settle to the bottom of your cup and you will be able to enjoy the lovely taste of a strong cup of coffee.


2. Salep

Second on our list is Salep which is a flour made from the tubers that come from Orchids.

This drink dates back to the ancient Romans and was known by them as an aphrodisiac because the shape of the plant quite resembles male genitalia. It was believed for a long time that it could restore virility and passion in men.

Orchids that give tubers
Salep is made with the flour from the orchid tubers.

This flour is not only used to make this hot drink but also used in baking and tasty treats like ice cream and pudding.

Unfortunately with the rise of consumption, we have begun to see local extinctions of these beautiful plants in parts of Turkey.

Man selling Salep on street
A man with his street cart selling salep.

Along with the extinction of so many orchids, it has become increasingly more difficult to find genuine Salep and has even become illegal to export it.

Thus, when you see Salep in the store, it more likely than not has artificial flavoring.

Real Salep is a milk based drink with a thick consistency, almost like pudding, and is often sprinkled with cinnamon and nuts.

When you find it on the streets, however, it will be much more like a milky drink that is dusted with cinnamon.

It is also only see on the streets during the winter months. So if you happen to find yourself wandering through Istanbul on a winter’s day, make sure you do so with a Salep in hand.

Raki: The liquor drink in Turkey

3. Rakı

Raki is to Turkey as Vodka is to Russia. (Who said that SAT prep would never come in handy).

It is an alcoholic drink made from twice distilled grapes and anise, giving it a strong black licorice flavor.

So if you are one of those people who likes that, this may be the drink for you!

Raki turns white when water is added
Raki is a clear liquor but when water is added, it turns a cloudy white color.

You can find this drink or something very similar in countries throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East.

This drink is served in tall shot glasses and rarely drunk neat. It is typically served neat and equal parts cold water is added to the Raki by the customer.

Anise seeds
It is made from twice distilled grapes and anise.

While it can be drunk with any meal or at any time like any other spirits, it is known to be paired with fish.

You will often hear of people doing a “Balık ve Rakı akşamı” where they will go to a nice Fish restaurant and Drink Raki wit their delicious fish. It is believed that the Raki takes off the harsh flavor of some fish.

But be careful because it isn’t for lightweights.

Turkish Tea: Drinks in Turkey

4. Tea

Turkish tea often becomes a favorite foreigners who move here because of how often it is drunk throughout the day.

Regardless of who you’re with or what you’re doing, Çay (chai) often follows.

While drinking tea is definitely not unique to Turkey, Turkey is actually known to have the world’s highest per capita consumption of tea in the entire world.

Though to be fair, the UK is a close second.

Turkish Tea served in a tulip shaped glass
It is typically served in a tulip shaped glass with a plate underneath.

Depending on where you go, you will find some that have Bergamont in with the black tea.

You can also find other herbal teas but simple black tea is definitely the most popular. Also because of the high import fees, most tea is locally sourced.

It is typically brewed in a çaydanlık, a special tea pot. There are two sections to the tea pot. The hot water is boiled on the bottom and the loose leave tea is in a separate kettle on top.

Caydanlik to serve Tea
Traditionally a caydanlik is used to brew and serve tea.

It is purposefully made strong so that each person can make it as strong or weak as they like.

It is served in tulip-shaped glasses on a saucer with a cube or packet of sugar. Turks will consume anywhere from 4-15 of these a day.

Before your jaw drops to the floor it would be prudent to note that the cups are not the standard American large sizes. These tea glasses are typically between 4-6 oz.

When you order you can specify koyu = strong or literally “dark” OR açık = weak or literally “light”.

It is never served with lemon or milk like other countries. They will think you quite crazy if you ask for milk on the side.


Ayran: Refreshing Drink in Turkey

5. Ayran

Finally we have our fifth drink…Ayran. Ayran is a popular drink throughout Asia and Eastern Europe.

While it can easily be made at home, it is also easily available in containers on the go.

So what is it? Ayran is a yogurt based drink. It is combined with water and a touch of salt to make a refreshing and rejuvenating drink.

Sometimes you will find Basil, Oregeno or Mint added to the Ayran for a slightly different flavor.

Ayran homemade
Ayran is made from combinging water, yogurt and a pinch of salt.

Now as an American, I was not impressed the first time I drank it, though I have grown to appreciate and even enjoy it.

Arguably, I also haven’t eaten a ton of yogurt because of how much sugar there is in it in the States as well as the consistency kinda gags me.

You will see it as a drink option everywhere! It will either be kapalı (meaning a boxed/bottled drink) or açık (meaning they do it there and it is served in a glass).

In Turkey, however, it is quite different. Of course you can find yogurt with sugar added but it is the exception instead of the rule here.

Many of the yogurts here are more akin to what we would think of as Greek yogurt. I won’t go further into that because it is a hotly debated subject…suffice it to say, yogurt here is different than in America.

The more I drank Ayran, the more I began to grow a taste for it. And if the yogurt used contains probiotics, it is even be a healthy addition to the meal. My favorite is this one.

It is often served with meals, especially when beef is present but is often drunk on its own as well.

So what do you think? What is the most popular drink among Turks?

If you guessed Tea, you would be correct! The most drunk drink in Turkey would be tea. Regardless if you’re just waking up or about to go to sleep, you will be offered a cup of tea. Perhaps because they drink so much tea here, their bodies have become acclimated to the high caffeine levels and can drink it at all times of the day without adverse affects on their sleep.

Have you tried any of these 5 drinks in Turkey or in other parts of the world?

Let me know what you thought below!

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