What to drink in Turkey
After winding through the streets of Istanbul, relaxing in a hammam or exploring Cappadocia's incredible caves, there are plenty of delicious Turkish beverages to quench your thirst. From non-alcoholic yoghurt drinks to delicious wine that pairs perfectly with mezes, here are 10 tasty drinks to try in Turkey.
1. Turkish coffee
Coffee is embedded in Turkish culture and is known around the world for its unique brewing method. It's made with arabica beans which are ground into a fine powder and boiled with cardamom and water in a cevze – a pretty copper or brass pot with a long, thin handle. Unlike western coffee brewing, Turkish coffee is unfiltered so a thick sediment will be left at the bottom of your cup. While you can’t drink this, it can be used to tell your fortune by a tasseographer!
2. Cay (Turkish tea)
Turkish coffee may steal the limelight, but when you visit Turkey you’ll realise tea is just as popular. Like coffee, it’s part of the fabric of Turkish culture and you’ll see people sipping this traditional brew from dainty little cups wherever you go. It's made in a two-piece teapot – one part brews loose black tea leaves, while the other boils water which is used to dilute the tea. It's mild in flavour and is typically drunk black, but feel free to add sugar to your liking.
Some would say boza is a drink, while others would say it’s a dessert. Whichever side you sit on, there’s no question about the deliciousness of this malty beverage. It’s made with fermented millet (or other grains such as oats, wheat or barley), sugar and water, and topped with cinnamon and roasted chickpeas. Despite being cold, boza is popular in winter as it’s thick, rich and comforting.
Raki is Turkey’s national drink. Made with twice-distilled grapes and flavoured with aniseed, the taste can be compared to Greek ouzo or sambuca. The traditional way of drinking it is in a special glass filled just under halfway with raki, and the rest with water and ice. At the dinner table, it's common to order a glass of raki with cold mezes such as smoked eggplant dip and feta cheese, followed by hot mezes. Bottoms up!
Yoghurt is a staple in Turkish cuisine, so much so that it’s made its way into one of the country’s most beloved cold drinks – ayran. The traditional recipe is made by blending yoghurt, water and salt, but you can also get flavoured ayran such as mint, cucumber, lemon or lime. It’s tart, refreshing, and goes down really well on a hot summer’s day.
6. Salgam suyu
Şalgam suyu, or pickled turnip juice, might not sound very appetising, but it’s loved by locals throughout Turkey for its tangy taste and gut-loving properties. It hails from the southeastern region and is made from the liquid of fermented wheat, turnip and purple carrots. You might be offered şalgam suyu after eating a kebap (kebab) to aid digestion – or if you had one too many glasses of raki the night before.
Calling all white wine lovers. Narince is a popular wine grape variety grown in the northeastern region of Tokat. It produces wines that are light, citrusy and slightly floral with notes of grapefruit, orange and fruit blossom. Order a glass of Narince alongside fish dishes, goat cheese or dolma (stuffed vine leaves). Fun fact: dolma is made with the leaves of Narince.
Öküzgözü is a large red grape variety that produces a medium-bodied wine with a strong acidity profile and fruity notes of dark cherry, pomegranate and plum. It pairs well with grilled meat, tomato-based dishes and mezes with eggplant.
Salep is the perfect drink to warm you up on a chilly night. It's made with a powdered spice mix of dried orchid root tubers, milk and sugar which is heated in a pot until thick and creamy. It’s usually served with a sprinkling of cinnamon for a spicy kick.
Kefir comes from the Turkish word keyif, which means 'good feeling', and after drinking a glass your tummy will be feeling fine. This ancient yoghurt drink is made by pouring milk over kefir grains and leaving it to ferment for 24 hours before draining the liquid. It’s packed with calcium and gut-loving bacteria that can aid digestion. Drink kefir on its own or as part of a smoothie.
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