Tippy Interviews Asya, the Turkish Tea Cup

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Dearies, I’ve decided it’s time to add a new series to the blog. As you know, I’m a traveling tea cup, and have been all over the world. I meet so many interesting pieces of tea ware, and it’s time that you started to learn their stories. Today, I’m interviewing Asya, a tea cup from Turkey that now lives in the US with one of Kat’s friends. I hope you enjoy!

Tippy: Please introduce yourself to my readers. Asya: my name is Asya, I am a glass lotus-shaped tea cup from Turkey. I was created in Turkey but now reside in a kitchen in the US I am a very busy tea cup, I get used all day long. I don’t have a particular saucer to call my own, my owner will pair me with whatever saucer she feels like using that day. She has quite a few colorful options. I love spending time with people, giving them lots of delicious tea to sip.

When are you used most? well, as I mentioned, I’m really busy all day long. Turks take their tea very seriously! I am used during breakfast, when company comes, for mid-afternoon work breaks, and after-dinner relaxation.

What kind of tea do you usually hold? In Turkey, lotus tea cups hold mainly bold, black tea. We refer to tea as çay. We brew our tea very strong, and then dilute it in the glass with hot water. Sugar is available as Turkish tea loves like tea sweet. We even have special tea kettles to prepare the tea.

Can you tell us a little more about the special tea kettle? Yes, we use a special double tea kettle, which is similar to the Russian samovar. It basically looks like one teapot stacked on top of a second one. Black tea is brewed in the top pot, and water is boiled in the bottom. The water is used to dilute the tea for each individual glass, so everyone can drink the tea as strong or as weak as they like.

Where do the tea leaves come from? The tea we prefer to use is grown and processed in Turkey on the coast of the Black Sea. Not many people realize that we grow tea in Turkey! We are actually the world’s sixth largest producer of tea.

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Everyone has heard of Turkish coffee, but is tea really that popular in Turkey? Yes, tea is really quite popular in Turkey. It is always offered to guests and visitors as a sign of hospitality. As I mentioned I am used multiple times a day at home, and people also consume tea in cafes.

Is the custom to drink the tea by itself, or add any milk, sugar, or anything else? We usually drink our tea without milk. As I mentioned you can add sugar, often two lumps will be sitting on my saucer ready for use. You may add the sugar to your tea, or people in some areas like to put a sugar cube between their tongue and cheek, and let it slowly dissolve with each sip. The only other thing that may be added is a slice of lemon.

Can you tell us one of your most memorable tea experiences? Well, when my owner Natalie was visiting her family in Turkey, she was taught how to brew tea using our special kettles. One afternoon she was alone in the house when a family friend dropped by. After greeting the friend, Natalie offered her something to eat, but not any tea! After a little while I was able to get her attention and explained that she must offer her guest tea. When her parents came home, she was reprimanded for not immediately offering her guest tea. It’s considered very rude not to have tea ready for guests! Everyone was laughing at Natalie’s mistake, but she was quite embarrassed. I am actually fond of this memory, because it’s the first time I was able to help Natalie out with tea time.

Thank you so much Asya for the interview! See Dearies, I’m not the only chatty teacup! I hope you enjoyed the first interview in our series. If you have any questions for Asya, let me know in the comments!

Tea Cups from Around the World

In the Western World, when one hears the word, “tea cup,” the first thing that comes to mind is that of the porcelain variety. One that looks, frankly, like me! But when it comes to tea, as you travel around the world, you’ll see that the word “tea cup” looks rather different depending on where you are.

Tea Cups Around the World

In Japan, you’ll see ceramic tea bowls being used in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Many of the prized tea bowls are crafted by artisans who use specific materials from one geographic region. It is believed that a beautifully crafted vessel can enhance the flavor of the tea and the joy of drinking it.

In parts of India, chai is still served in the traditional red, unglazed, clay cups. These small cups (until recently, they were the norm throughout the country) are a single use vessel. Once the chai is consumed, the cups are discarded on the ground, out a train window, down a river bank. When the rains come, the cups disintegrate and they turn back into India’s red earth. An economical and ecological use of local resources!

Since the 18th century in Russia, tea has been commonly served in drinking glasses in a Podstakannik, or metal tea glass holder. These practical holders allow people to drink hot beverages from their common drinking glasses and also provide additional stability – especially on the Russian trains. (I can vouch for how slippery those dining car tables are!)

In North Africa, traditional mint tea is prepared in the tea pot and then poured from nearly standing height into small glass cups, aerating the tea and creating a bit of a froth that almost resembles beer foam! The tea glasses may be clear or bright and colorful.

In Argentina, where yerba mate is the herbal tisane of choice, the “tea” is served in a gourd or gourd shaped cup and the tea is sipped through a metal straw, or bombilla. 

Regardless of your vessel of choice, tea can bridge class, culture, status and state. It brings people together and is a luxury all can afford.

What is your tea cup of choice?