Arguably, tea is the national drink of Turkey and is certainly the most popular amongst locals. Sold in the streets, frequently offered to customers in touristic shops, in parks and tea houses, it is very much embedded in Turkish culture. However, Rakı is often cited as Turkey’s number one drink, preferably with a meal in the evening. A non-alcoholic alternative to Rakı is Ayran, which also goes well with the Turkish kebab. Şalgam and Salep are other drinks unique to the region that you can try.
Çay (Tea) is commonly referred to as the national beverage of Turkey and is widely consumed. Freshly made and poured from an ornately decorated copper teapot into elegant, small glasses on dainty saucers, it is popular among the natives to add several cubes of sugar. People usually have a cup of tea to get going at breakfast time with a delicious, sesame covered bagel known as ‘simit’, white cheese, sliced cucumber and tomato. Whether watching the seagulls over the Bosphorus in Istanbul, relaxing on the beach in Marmaris or at one of the famous tourist destinations, Turkish tea is an essential part of the authentic experience.
This is known as the alcoholic national drink of Turkey and in the Meditteranean and Aegean coastal regions it is sipped slowly with a fish dish or a kebab dish. This is probably because it is a very strong drink with 40% alcohol. It is often diluted with water giving it a milky appearance, hence the nickname ‘Lion’s Milk’. A glass of cold Raki at a coastal seafood restaurant, listening to the waves and taking in the salty air, is the perfect way to get a taste of Turkish culture.
Some would say this chilled, savoury yogurt drink takes the place of Rakı as the national drink of Turkey. It makes a nice accompaniment to one of the national hot dishes served on boat trips, in restaurants, during evening shows etc. It provides a nice contrast to the vegetable side dishes cooked in olive oil and is very healthy and rich in calcium.
Another very healthy beverage is Şalgam, which is probably unlike any drink you’ve had before but definitely worth trying. It is served cold but is quite spicy and a little sour. Made from carrots and flavoured with turnips it has high amounts of vitamin C. It is often served in the traditional Turkish taverns alongside tasty ‘meze’s; vegetable side dishes cooked in olive oil.
This delicious sweet drink is made with milk, served hot and most popular in winter but can be drunk all year round. It’s flavoured with the root of the Orchid flower and goes back to Ottoman times.
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