The culture of Turkish tea houses (çayhane)
Tea houses are not unique to Turkey, with variants common across Europe, North America and Asia, but in Turkey there are some unique elements that mark these interesting places out from all the others.
Drinking tea is an institution in the country and its preparation is an art. Typically made in an instrument called a çaydanlık, the tea can be served strong (“koyu“/dark) or weak (“açık“/light) and is consumed in the beautiful tulip shaped glasses which never fail to attract the attention.
You can watch a short video we made as part of our Cultural Relay Project giving you the low-down on how to prepare the perfect cup to get you started.
There is no better place to place to enjoy a cup of the brown stuff than in one of the innumerable tea houses that dot every road, village, town and city. Tea houses are at the very centre of social life in Turkey and are the place where locals come to gossip, regale and quite simply to escape the pressures of everyday life. The first thing that should be noted however, is the absence of females in these male orientated retreats.
As a rough rule, the bigger the city the more women are accepted but in small towns and more conservative parts of the country, a Turkish woman entering a teahouse would be made to beat a swift retreat. As a foreigner, however, the rules are different. Foreign women become honorary men in most places and will be welcomed with open arms.
written by: Jon
photos by: Ania