Turkey has broken its own record in tea consumption with an increase from 3.5 to 4 kilograms per person annually amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report by the International Tea Committee.
Consumption at cafes or tea houses declined due to lockdowns and curfews, but the pandemic did not stop tea consumption from exceeding previous levels.
Some 275,000 tons of the processed tea produced in the country last year were totally consumed, the report said.
“When it comes to drinking tea, we are the top country in the world,” Mehmet Erdoğan, the head of commodity exchange in the Black Sea province of Rize, also known as the “tea capital of Turkey,” told Demirören News Agency on Nov. 29.
“On average, a person drinks three to five glasses of tea,” he added.
According to official data, a Turk drinks some 1,300 cups of tea per year, which also supports Erdoğan’s bet.
He is proud of the result because the production and the consumption of tea “did not lose its war with the pandemic.”
“People continued to drink at their houses.”
Rize’s title as “the capital of Turkish tea” dates back to 1924, one year after the Turkish Republic was established.
As Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid II was a tea addict, tea seeds were brought from Japan in 1878 and planted in the northwestern province of Bursa.
However, it was understood then that the Black Sea was more suitable for tea planting, and as of 1918, the first tea seeds were planted in Batumi, today’s Georgia.
After the Turkish Republic’s founding, the seeds brought from Batumi were planted in Rize. As the result was promising, the first tea factory of the country was established in 1947 in the same province.
Demirören News Agency’s interviews with the residents of Rize also prove how the province see tea as “a national drink.”
“I am a tea addict who drinks around 30 glasses a day. I adore tea and feel deficiency when I do not drink one,” Adem Cansız said.
Abdülkadir Yağcı insisted that he was not a tea addict, but said he drinks around 10 glasses per day.
Tea is one of Esra Çolak’s “indispensable things in life.” “I drink tea wherever, whenever, however.I steep tea when I am bored,” she said.
Turkey is also an important tea exporter. In the first eight months of 2019, a year before the pandemic, Turkey’s tea export was over $5.7 million. Germany was the biggest buyer with 128 tons, with North Cyprus following.