Drinks of Turkey

Find out about the traditional drinks commonly found throughout Turkey: Turkish coffee, juices, water and raki...

Coffee is very important culturally in Turkey; the company and setting are the main event - coffee is just an excuse. Turkish coffees are not strong despite their thick appearance. The grounds are not meant to be swallowed. The main source of caffeine in Turkey is tea, and drinking it is considered an essential part of the working day. It is served in clear tulip-shaped glasses. Tea-houses and tea-gardens can be found all over the country. Strong black tea is typically served whenever visiting people at their homes or when people are asked to sit and wait. Herbal teas are also popular and some are quite unusual but well worth trying, such as sage tea.

Popular daytime drinks include seasonal freshly squeezed fruit juices, which are especially good in the south of the country when the citrus season is at its peak. Carrot juice, banana milk and sour apple juice are also popular choices, as is ayran, a mixture of yogurt, water and salt.

Water has always been considered to be sacred in Turkey and is drunk at every meal.

Turkey has two popular winter-time drinks: boza, which is produced from fermented millet, and the very sweet sahlep, which is made from the pulverised tubers of wild orchids and served with cinnamon.

Alcoholic drinks

Raki is probably the most famous Turkish alcoholic drink. It has a distinctive aniseed flavour and is drunk with water. It is commonly referred to as "lion's milk" by locals.

Some very good dry red and white wines are produced in Turkey. There is a history of wine making in Anatolia that dates back 7,000 years to a time when it had a strong cultural importance: it was the only drink offered to the gods during rituals attended by royalty and important people.

In modern Turkey the main wine-growing regions are still to be found in Anatolia, though there is also production in the Marmara, Aegean and Mediterranean regions. Hundreds of genetically different grape varieties are grown in the country. Widely-used grape varieties include Emir, Narince, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bornova Misketi and Shiraz. Wine is a good accompaniment to many Turkish foods. and good labels to seek out include Kavakladere Cankaya, Villa Doluca, Dikmen and Yakut.

In Turkey there is often not a large selection of beers available. The choice is often limited to the Turkish brewed Efes and Tuborg, a pale Danish lager. Tekel Birsai is another Turkish beer, and is also the oldest brewery brand in the country.