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Çay – Served Everywhere in Turkey

Where can you find tea in Turkey?

Tea, the universal drink, is found in every corner of the world. In Turkey it is served at every gathering, after every meal, and even served in fast food restaurants. It is commonly offered free at the end of each meal or before doing business. Whether in a carpet store or before checking into a hotel room we were offered tea and stories or told about sites and activities with a hot glass of tea. Tea is truly everywhere in Turkey.

Hiking the Pigeon Valley just outside of the Cappadocian town of Goreme we thought we may be the only ones in the valley that day until we came upon a tea house; Hasan’s Tea Garden to be exact. What an unexpected site.Hasan_Tea_House

Hasan, a smiling old man, beckoned us to his shop for tea. He has a very limited menu; tea or apple tea. He brought cushions out for us and placed them on wooden benches. We took our seats. In Turkish, as in many other parts of the world, tea is çay, pronounced chaye. In addition to the tea he filled bowls for each of us with peanuts.

At 2 TL (Turkish Lire) about one dollar a glass it’s hard to see why Hasan would run such a business. It was mid-afternoon on a mostly-sunny spring day and we were his first customers. In honor of our first-customer status he offered us a gift. But there was a catch: In order to get the gift we had to first answer a question correctly.

My daughter was questioned first. “What does Cappadocia mean?” She quickly answered, ‘beautiful horses’. “Correct”. He reached into a plastic bag grabbed something and wrapped it in an old piece of newspaper. She unfolded it and it was a nice beaded bracelet.

Next he asked my wife, “Who is the founder of modern Turkey?” “Ata Turk”, she correctly answered. She too received a bracelet wrapped in newspaper.

I was next and it seemed as though he had made his way through all the easy questions about Turkey and the region. Luckily for me he resorted to a Monty Python question that I could answer. “What is your name?” I too received a gift, a key chain with a glass bead with a local charm for the ‘evil eye’ on it.

I wish Hasan great success in business and highly recommend you enjoy an apple tea and Hasan’s happy service when hiking in the Pigeon Valley.

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