Tea culture can be defined by the way people prepare and consume tea, interactions in relation to the preparation and consumption of tea, and by the aesthetics surrounding tea drinking. Tea cultures vary across the globe. This research looks at tea-cultures in contemporary Turkey.
In Turkey, tea is usually prepared in a tea-set which is composed of an upper and lower kettle. In the upper kettle, a very strong tea is prepared, while the lower kettle contains hot water in order to dilute the tea on an individual basis, which gives every person the opportunity to drink the tea light or dark. The tea is mostly served in small glasses in order to enjoy the tea hot and to show its colour.
Preparing and drinking tea is a marker of identity. In Turkey, people of Turkish origin tend to drink a kind of tea from the black sea coastal area (Rize tea), while the Kurds in the southeast of the country mostly drink a tea from Sri Lanka which was smuggled into the country (Kacak tea) in previous days, but is sold as a brand (Istikan tea) in markets today. In some regions people add sugar to the tea, but in others a sugar hard as stone is put into the mouth, diluting and giving taste when drinking the hot tea.
Drinking tea is a social affair. The offer to drink tea is a sign of hospitality, and social relations are established and confirmed by drinking tea together. When visiting people or families, drinking tea is an indispensable part of the being together, and leaving the house after a meal but before drinking tea can be understood as rude. In past times, the public spaces were tea was drank and relations made, business developed, or news shared, were dominated by men. Today, many of these spaces are mixed.
The tea one drinks, how and where are not only markers of identity, but also lenses through which we can look at the nature of social relations. This research aims to understand the marking of identity and the nature of changing social relations by looking at tea-culture. The research is preferably being conducted in Istanbul or Diyarbakir.
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