Stay healthy and warm this winter with traditional Turkish drinks that not only taste delicious but also keep the immune system strong
Turkey has many unique drink tastes varying from salty to sweet to spicy. Dating back to long ago, these exotic drinks have spread throughout the world because of their popularity, yet many of these tastes can also keep you warm and healthy during the cold winter months ahead.
One of the oldest drinks you can find in Turkey dates back to the Ottoman Empire. Salep is an exotic drink made from the dried tubers of wild orchids. This creamy and thick hot drink is consumed in places that were formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, especially during the winter months, as it helps to sooth coughs and prevent bronchitis. Ottoman sailors knew of its nutritional and fortifying characteristics, and they would stock up on salep for long journeys in order to stay healthy. It is said that just 30 grams of this powder is enough to give you a full day's worth of nutrients.
Preparing this drink is much easier than listing all of its benefits. Simply heat some milk or water and mix in the power. Salep is best when it is served with cinnamon or ginger to complement the taste.
Another drink dating back to the times of the sultans is boza. This thick drink is made from maize or wheat durum with added water and sugar. Its slightly acidic and sweet flavor is a favorite for the chilly months ahead. Boza is rich with carbohydrates and vitamins, making it a healthy source of nutrients, including calcium, iron, niacin, phosphorus, riboflavin, thiamine and zinc. This creamy and velvety drink is so filling and nutritious that it was used during the Ottoman Empire to feed the army and keep them warm.
Boza is sold pre-made, so all you have to do is add some cinnamon and roasted chickpeas (leblebi) and it is ready to drink. Though this drink is less common today, you can occasionally come across sellers on the street yelling "Boza!" in the winter.
Turkish coffee is more of a conversation starter than anything, but its warm and inviting smell will keep you warm until spring. Served on a platter with Turkish delight or chocolate and a side drink of water or apple juice, this coffee is the perfect treat on a cold day. The coffee used for Turkish coffee is prepared by roasting the coffee beans and then grinding them. The ground coffee is then mixed with water and boiled in a small pot known as a cezve. The coffee is then poured into small cups, allowing the coffee grinds to sink to the bottom. These grinds are not meant to be eaten, as they serve a bigger purpose: fortune telling. After a good conversation and a delicious cup of Turkish coffee, fortunes are told by turning the cup upside down on the plate and interpreting the images seen on the side of the cup. This enjoyable drink is not only a way to keep warm, it is said to cure headaches and help fight against liver and stomach disorders. Rich in antioxidants, Turkish coffee is also proven to help prevent the growth of cancer cells.
And last but surely the beverage that is a must have in every Turkish home, Turkish tea. For Turkish people, tea is a welcome gesture, a break from work, a conversation starter and more than anything, a comfort drink. Turkish tea, referred to as çay (chai), is black tea prepared without milk. It is served in small glass cups with a saucer and a small spoon and one or two sugar cubes. The tea itself if prepared using two kettles stacked on top of each other, known as çaydanlık, where the bottom kettle holds boiling water and the top kettle holds the tea brew with loose tea leaves. Brewing the tea this way allows each person to choose how strong his or her tea is by diluting the strong tea on top with the hot water below.
Turkish tea is not the only tea you can drink this winter to keep warm. There are a variety of herbal teas to choose from. Linden tea, known as ıhlamur, is a popular drink during the frosty months. To prepare it, all you have to do is brew the Linden leaves in a pot and enjoy. Adding lemons to the brew and sweeting the tea with a tablespoon of honey will sooth your throat and keep you healthy as well.
Rose hip, known as kuşburnu, is a favored tea that is available throughout the year. It is made from the fruit of the rose plant using the seeds under the leaves of the flower. Its deep red color is acquired while brewing the red fruits of the plant. Also used in the making of jam and jelly, the bittersweet flavor of this drink will stimulate your taste buds.
Pick and choose from the many options for this winter's favorite drink. Keep warm and healthy at the same time with these appetizing beverages, coffees and teas. Snuggle up with a warm blanket and a mug of your personal choice and enjoy the frosty months ahead.