At the tail end of our ‘Stories From The Silk Road’ series is our homage to Turkey, the country that straddles the boundary between the East and the West.
It’s no understatement to say that Turkish Delight has been a Tea Centre favourite for nigh on two decades now. But did you know this blushing brew takes inspiration from one of the most important countries on the Silk Road?
Since the time of the Byzantines, Turkey has been the epicentre of trade between Asia and Europe. As a result, this beautiful country has a history that’s as rich as Turkish Delight tea!
Tea, Turkey, and Turkish Delight
The Silk Road in the thirteenth century saw tea take pride of place in Turkish kitchens as the Ottomans began trading gorgeous silks for chests of loose leaf from China.
Turkey’s love for tea didn’t stop at the dissolution of the Ottoman empire either! To this day, Turkey is the biggest tea-consuming country in the world (although the “most tea consumed per capita” title still belongs to East Frisia).
As such, many traditions have sprung up around sipping in Turkey…and what makes a better accompaniment to tea than Turkish Delight?
More than just a dessert that cameos in Narnia, the history behind Turkish Delight (lokum) is as storied as the Silk Road itself. Rumour has it that a sultan ordered palace confectioners to make an exceptional dessert to assuage his upset and yelling mistresses.
No one really knows if this legend is true. However, several point to how lokum is a corruption of the Turkish saying rahatü’l-hulkum (“giving rest to the throat”) as evidence that it is. Alternatively, Turkish sweets exporter Hacı Bekir claim to have innovated the dessert back in the eighteenth century.
No matter its origin, the global popularity of Turkish Delight is unparalleled. With this in mind, The Tea Centre was inspired to make a gift set that tapped into Turkey’s rich history of desserts and tea traditions. Alas, the ‘Twilight In Turkey’ wanderlust gift box was born!
Twilight In Turkey
While the bazaars of Turkey quickly make apparent that lokum comes in many flavours, The Tea Centre infused the most popular kind—rosewater—into their Turkish Delight tea!
As mentioned earlier, Turkey marked a point of convergence between the East and West on the Silk Road. Similarly, Turkish Delight tea converges the dark taste of black tea with the sweetness of vanilla and romance of rose petals.
Boasting a scent reminiscent of evenings spent in Turkish bazaars, this wanderlust gift box also boasts a perfect teaspoon and tea infuser. Pair this with an ince belli (Turkey’s tulip-shaped tea glasses) and you’re well on your way to sipping tea the Turkish way!
Turkish tea-drinking traditions
Given tea is ubiquitous in Turkey, it’s no wonder the country has made their own tea rituals over time! For those seeking to sip Turkish-style, a samovar or çaydanlık will come in handy. These ornate vessels are akin to kettles and are used to boil water for tea.
Local preferences differ on whether tea should be served light or strong, although Turkish sippers will never take their tea with milk! Rather, they will sweeten their tea with sugar or add a slice of lemon.
Alternatively, the only tea accompaniment to rival Turkish Delight in the likes of Ankara and Istanbul is pipe smoking. In fact, pairing these habits is so popular in Turkey that the activity even has its own verb! The Turkish word ‘içmek’ means to pipe-smoke tobacco and sip tea at the same time.