Tag Archives: Turkey

WHICH COUNTRIES ARE THE TOP PRODUCERS OF TEA? (Part 2)

By Yvonne Blackwood~

King Tea reigns supreme!         cup-156743_1280

We now know that tea is the most popular drink in the world (after water) and we know which countries are the two top tea producers (see part 1 of our previous blog). Let us now turn our attention to the numbers 3, 4, and 5 top tea producers.

Kenya, East Africa, is the third largest tea producer. Tea was first planted in Limuru near the capital, Nairobi, by G.W.L Caine in 1903. At the time the bush was planted for merely ornamental purposes. Commercial tea cultivation in Kenya began in the 1930’s. Today tea is one of Kenya’s most important cash crops, and the country is known as one of the world’s leading Black Tea producers. Kenya’s high quality tea is used for blending other teas that are sold on the world market.

The Tea Industry in Kenya has two components—corporate planters and small holders consisting of more than half million registered growers. The Tea growing areas in Kenya have the ideal climate for Tea—tropical, well-distributed rainfall, long sunny days, coupled with rich volcanic red soil. The best tea growing regions are located in both east and west of the Great Rift Valley within altitudes ranging from 1,500 meters to 2,700 meters. Kenya exports about 95 % of its total tea production.

 Sri Lanka is the number four top producing tea country in the world. The question one asks is how did a small island off the coast of India become so highly ranked in tea production?

Tea was first cultivated commercially in Sri Lanka (Formerly Ceylon) in 1867 by the Scotsman James Taylor, who was a British planter. Almost 200 years after James Taylor’s death, tea production grew rapidly. Many plantations which once grew coffee were converted to tea, and former coffee stores became tea factories resulting in a dramatic increase in tea production.

Harvesting tea, Sri Lanka
Harvesting tea, Sri Lanka

Tea is serious business in Sri Lanka, and is produced according to strict traditional methods and standards. The Tea Board, set up in 1976, is the main regulatory and administrative body of the Sri Lankan tea industry. It incorporates representatives from both private bodies involved in the industry such as cultivators, manufacturers, traders, exporters, and government. Today tea export is one of the most important sources of foreign exchange for Sri Lanka. The country has developed quality teas. When the “Pure Ceylon Tea” stamp with its Lion logo is placed on a sack of tea you know it symbolizes 100% pure Ceylon tea packed in Sri Lanka, and is world-renowned as one of the finest tea in the world.

Turkey is the number five top producing tea country. Tea production mainly started after 1923 when Turkey became a republic. Most of the tea plantations are centered around the Black Sea region and the town of Rize where the first tea factory was built. The tea produced is primarily black tea, known as Turkish tea, or Rize tea (named after the Rize area).  A tea corporation was established in 1971, and in 2015 the country produced 175, 000 tonnes of tea. Turkish tea is very strong, therefore it is not served in large cups but in small tulip-shaped glasses. Turkey consumes most of its tea, exporting only a small amount.

Turkish Tea served in glasses
Turkish Tea served in glasses

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BEWARE OF TURKS OFFERING TEA!

By Yvonne Blackwood~

A few years ago I was touring Istanbul when I had an interesting encounter with Nazik, a young Turkish gentleman. I was with a group of tourists when Vilma, my touring buddy, and I decided to go off on our own. At the time the bustling city of Istanbul seemed harmless enough. We headed for the Hagia Sofia only to find a queue a mile long, waiting to enter. It was a hot day in September, and since we did not want to get baked waiting in line, we decided not to join the queue. We dashed across the street and headed toward another mosque. It was the Blue Mosque, one of the major tourist attractions in the city, and it’s an active one—it was prayer time. What should we do? How long would we have to wait?

The Blue Mosque, Istanbul-still active
The Blue Mosque, Istanbul-still active

Our bus driver had given us clear instructions about where and when our group should meet with him. We still had a couple of hours to go. We were walking slowly back to the meeting place when a young Turk, waving his hands frantically, called out to us from the side of the road. “Come and see my store. We have lots of nice rugs,” he said. I politely said thank you, and assured him that we did not want any rugs. “Come, come, we have very nice rugs,” he insisted. Vilma reiterated that we did not need anything.

Then he said the magic words! “Look, you don’t have to buy anything, just come and have a nice cup of tea with us then you can go.” He seemed like such an honest, hard-working man, and we had time to spare. We followed him to his store which was on a short street that ran off the main road. He said his name was Nazik, and gave us his business card. He pulled out comfortable chairs for us to sit. Within minutes Nazik’s assistant came into the room with a quaint, double-spout teapot and little glasses placed on saucers. Nazik poured tea for us and as we sipped the delicious, rich-dark Turkish tea, he told us about himself. He had travelled to the United States where he has relatives and had been to Canada.

Turkish Tea served in glasses
Turkish Tea served in glasses

While Nazik spoke, his assistant had been subtly bringing in several beautiful rugs which he rolled out in front of us like magic carpets! Vilma reminded Nazik that we didn’t want any rugs. Besides, they’re too bulky to travel with.  “Oh just have a look. You don’t have to buy. Anyway, we can ship it to you,” he said. More rugs arrived; each more intricate than the first ones. We sipped our tea and tried to ignore the products.

Finally, Nazik said, “Okay, you don’t want rugs; how about some tablecloths?” On queue, the assistant entered with some the most magnificent table cloths—they were woven like tapestry. Unwittingly, Nazik had zeroed in on my weak spot. How could I leave without possessing one of these masterpieces?

A masterpiece Table Cloth
A masterpiece Table Cloth

Our tour guide had advised us earlier not to accept the first price offered by sellers; we should haggle. So I haggled. After Vilma and I drank two cups of Nazik’s Turkish tea, we departed from his store.  I carried a neat zippered bag with a handle, and inside was a tablecloth that one could easily hang on a living room wall. It has become by pride and joy, and a conversation piece when I entertained.

SIDE BAR:

Turkish tea, also called çay, is a type of black tea made from the Camellia sinensis leaves, similar to other teas. The Turks have developed their unique way of making and drinking tea to the extent that tea-drinking is a part of their culture and a way of life. Tea or coffee is usually offered as a sign of friendship and hospitality wherever you go in Turkey. According to World Atlas, in 2013 Turkey was the fifth largest producer of tea in the world, with China and India at first and second respectively.

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