Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Making a spot of Turkish çay

Well hello! I feel like it's been forever since we've chatted. Probably because it has. :-) Lots has happened in the Boatwright Downton household since my last post. Never fear, I'll get you caught up. I've got a post about our Masquerade New Year's party in the works.

You might have noticed a flurry of photos from my social media channels over the last few weeks. Zach and I took a trip for our anniversary. We went to Paris and the Paris of the East, better known as Istanbul. I can't wait to unpack the trip, with photos, for y'all in the coming weeks. We went for two weeks and saw a TON. We've been to Paris before, in fact, we spent our honeymoon there, but Istanbul was completely new.

Which brings me to today's post. We fell in love with Istanbul. Head over heels. With the history, people, sights and most of all, the food and decor. I can't wait to show you the items we brought home--we're normally not big on souvenirs--photos are it, but because we're decorating the house and totally loved this new culture, we came home with some goods. Case in point: Turkish tea cups.

I'm not a tea drinker. Coffee is my drug of choice and I'm proud of it. Tea is just so boring to me most of the time. I'm gradually growing to like it more, but it's like choosing fat free over the real stuff. UNTIL.... Turkish tea. We walked around the shops in Istanbul and every shop owner in the afternoon sat on his front stoop drinking this little glass cup of tea in a saucer. We had our first cups when we purchased a small Persian rug in the Grand Bazaar. It's customary to serve guests (and potential customers) tea while discussing the merits of the product and negotiating prices. It's this whole process that's funny. Meanwhile, AWESOME tea. Hello! What is this stuff? It's not your average tea bag tea. It's stronger and just... awesome. The next few days we each had about 9 cups of tea. It's basically a shot glass, so it's not actually that much, but between that and Turkish coffee, I do think it kept us up at night.

So walking around, we came across a really pretty tea cup set. I wanted to buy the whole set, but 200 lira (around $185?) was a little steep after the other purchases we'd made. So we got just two. I immediately set to googling the process, because I had a feeling there was more to making it than tea bags. And I was right. Here is what I found. I ran the recipe by our guesthouse host and she confirmed that was the correct way to make it.

So we got home and I ordered the black tea and the double teapot. Both arrived in boxes covered in Turkish writing, so I figured that's a good sign.

I pulled out our hot pot--which we use for French Press every day, so it's handy already. Got 1 liter of water boiling.

I measured out 1/3 cup of black tea

Rinsed the tea in a sieve and cheesecloth (the sieve wasn't fine enough)

Once the water boiled, I put it in the bottom tea pot and set the second pot on top. I turned the water to high until it boiled.

I dumped the tea into the top pot

Once the water boiled on the bottom, I poured half the quantity into the top and turned the heat to low. I let it sit for 20 minutes. One thing I'm still waiting on is a teacup-sized strainer. Since I didn't have that, the process was a little awkward, but I poured the tea through the cheesecloth and strained into the tiny tea cup. ONLY filled it half way though. I topped the tea off with hot water from the bottom.

If you like tea sweet, make sure to use sugar cubes. It's pretty fun! We had them for cocktails already, so it worked out well. The process was slightly easier than French Press coffee, in my opinion.

So there you have it. My american version of Turkish çay. If you come over, I'll make you some! Hopefully I'll find some more little teacups someday. :-)