Turkish drinks and beverages are some of the most popular in the world. They have been around for many centuries, and they can be found far beyond Turkey’s borders.
They help keep people going through a hot summer day or stay warm and healthy in the winter months, but more importantly, Turkish people love them because they are delicious!
Traditional Turkish drinks are a huge part of the country’s culture and lifestyle, and they come in many different varieties to suit any taste. In this blog post, we will explore 10 popular Turkish drinks that are sure to make your mouth water! We will also talk about how Turkish drinks are made and drunk, so prepare for an in-depth guide on these popular beverages.
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1. Turkish Coffee
In 1517 the Ottoman Turks conquered a small Yemeni town named Mocha and took their coffee beans back home. They were unaware that this was the beginning of an empire’s favorite drink!
Turkish coffee is cooked by boiling, not brewing, or mixing with hot water, unlike many other types of coffee. Coffee consumption is customary after meals or when guests are over at the Turkish household.
Turkish coffee has a strong taste and is usually served in espresso-sized cups. Serving a Turkish delight or a small piece of chocolate with it is a common tradition in Turkey.
Related content: How to cook Turkish coffee
2. Turkish Tea
Tea was not a popular drink in Turkey until the 1950’s when the coffee bean prices skyrocketed during World War II. Turkish people were addicted to caffeine and needed an alternative so they turned towards black tea, which could grow in Turkey and is highly caffeinated.
Turkey now has the highest tea consumption globally, with 3.2kg consumed per capita each year.
Turkish tea is often served in tulip-shaped glasses and consumed all day long, especially during breakfast.
The redder, more caffeinated, and stronger the tea, the better. This red and strong hue is called “tavşan kanı” which translates as “rabbit blood” – the perfect word to approve the tea before sipping it!
Related content: How to cook Turkish tea
3. Ayran (Turkish yogurt drink)
Ayran is a refreshing yogurt-based drink unique to Turkey. This chilled, salty, and slightly sour beverage has been around for centuries and is a traditional way to beat the heat.
Ayran is a popular drink in Turkey as it pairs well with many Turkish dishes, including meat dishes, kebabs, gözleme, börek, lahmacun, and pide.
You can find packaged ayran in nearly every restaurant in Turkey, but the best places to get your hands on this authentic Turkish beverage are the ones where they serve up homemade, foamy glasses of this drink! “Yayik ayran” usually refers to homemade ayran.
You can make ayran with any yogurt you have at home. Mix yogurt and salt together, then slowly add water until you reach the right consistency.
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Boza is one of the oldest Turkish drinks, and it’s a fermented beverage made from grains such as millet, barley, wheat, or corn. It is consumed more in winter as it is a densely structured drink and has a sour taste. It is served with cinnamon and roasted chickpeas on top.
Traditional Turkish boza is made with millet semolina, water, and sugar. It offers rich nutrients as well as possible health benefits due to being rich in probiotics and lactic acid.
Boza is not as readily available as the other traditional Turkish drinks we have listed so far, but it can be found if you know where to look for it. Vefa Bozacisi has been serving one of the best bozas in Turkey since 1876 at their original shop.
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5. Şalgam Suyu (fermented turnip juice)
A valuable beverage in Turkish cuisine, Şalgam Suyu, is prepared using turnip or purple carrots, bulgur wheat, salt, and yeast. It usually has two different versions; mild and spicy hot.
One common pairing includes drinking it as a soft drink alongside kebabs, especially at traditional kebab restaurants that offer fat-rich and heavy kebabs.
Şalgam suyu also makes for a potent cocktail that is popular in Turkey. Mixing it with raki, the traditional Turkish alcoholic beverage, creates an intoxicating concoction.
Related content: 20 Most Delicious Turkish Kebabs
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6. Turkish Raki
Raki, a high-octane alcoholic drink with a unique taste of anise, is traditionally served in Turkish taverns. It is made of suma (white grapes pomace) and, anise seeds.
Turkish raki is potent, having %40-50 alcohol thus, it is commonly diluted with water or ice cubes to make the taste more enjoyable and (manageable).
This drink was given the nickname “Lion’s Milk” due to its white appearance after it mixes with H2O; since the lion is a common metaphor for a strong and courageous person in Turkey.
In Turkey, people drink raki as they enjoy long conversations and partake in a unique appetizer culture. While not the same, raki is similar to Greek ouzo, French pastis, Italian sambuca, and Middle Eastern arak.
Related content: Turkish Raki: Complete Guide for Beginners, Do's & Dont's
Salep, which is often consumed with cinnamon, especially in winter, is a hot and intense drink made of powdered orchid roots, milk, and sugar. This traditional Turkish beverage requires collecting the tubers of the wild orchids (orchid roots are also called salep) under the ground and grinding these tubers into powder.
Orchid roots are rich in starch, and when mixed with milk, it turns into a thick, custardy-like texture. Salep powder is also the key ingredient in Turkish ice cream, as it makes for a dense and chewy treat.
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8. Pomegranate juice
In Turkish mythology, the pomegranate is a symbol of beauty as well as fertility and abundance.
This wonderful fruit can be found at every corner in Turkey, and it’s not hard to see why. Packed with antioxidants, the refreshing juice made from this citrusy treat has been purported for its numerous health benefits ranging from lowering cholesterol levels to eliminating toxins.
Even before you start looking for this tangy but delicious drink, you will naturally stumble upon many stands juicing it freshly in Istanbul.
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9. Nane Limon (dried mint and lemon)
This traditional Turkish drink, Nane Limon, is made by boiling a slice of lemon with dried mint. This potent winter warmer keeps everyone safe from the cold (according to every mother in Turkey) and has also been shown to help fight seasonal sniffles.
Fresh leaves of black pepper and honey are frequently added to the drink to make it more effective.
While not a well-known drink for foreigners or tourists, it is one of the most popular drinks in winter for Turkish people.
10. Efes Pilsen
Efes Pilsen is Turkey’s most famous beer, known for its iconic bottle design and crisp taste. When people talk about beer in Turkey, an Efes Pilsen beer bottle involuntarily comes to life before your eyes.
Efes produces another popular beer, Bomonti, which has recently become one of Turkey’s most popular beer brands.
Alcohol consumption in Turkey is lower than in most European countries, but beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage among Turkish people.
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The following drinks are not traditional in Turkey but worth mentioning:
Apple tea is a rather unusual drink in Turkey that the locals most possibly have never tried and have no idea what it is. But many tourists also claim it’s their most favorite Turkish beverage.
Apple tea is not typically popular among locals, but it can be found in hotels and tourist shops.
It is customary in Turkey to offer Turkish black tea to your guests as a sign of hospitality, whether at home or work. However, the traditional Turkish black tea is quite strong and not always enjoyable to tourists. This has caused it to be replaced with sweet, flavorful, but non-traditional apple tea.
There is one more thing about apple tea that most people don’t realize – it’s usually just an artificial apple powder with lots of sugar and doesn’t actually contain any apples. However, when offered this drink, don’t judge and enjoy it; it is tasty.
While this is never recognized or named a cocktail by locals, fermented turnip juice (Şalgam Suyu) and Turkish Raki mixture is one of Turkey’s most popular two-ingredient cocktails.
Some other notable Turkish cocktails are:
Turkish Screwdriver: Raki & orange juice
Turkish Delight: Rose liquor & rose water
Hot Bunny: Raki & pomegranate liquor
Turkish Delight Martini: Vodka & rose syrup
You can find the recipes here: http://kuletos.com.au/cocktails/Turkish-Cocktails
We hope you enjoyed this blog post of traditional Turkish drinks. If you’re interested in learning more about the history and culture behind these beverages, or if you want to try some for yourself (we taste 6 of these drinks on our food tours), you can book our food tour today!
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