I grew up in Turkey and lived there until I was 25. For the first time, I saw the Turkish Apple Tea sold in the grand bazaar perhaps a decade ago. I immediately thought such a tourist trap. However, I have not tasted it until now, what I drank (infused pieces of dried apple) was not really bad. Indeed, it offered a nice ‘tartness’ which was more dominant than its sweetness, and it was somewhat pleasant.
I researched about how this tea came to being, and I found the explanation by Krisi Smith in the World Atlas of Tea reasonable. Smith suggests that Turkish tea is offered to customers in any business context. This applies to tourists who buy Turkish handicrafts such as rugs. Offering tea is a way to keep the client in the shop and to increase the likelihood of a sale. Smith suggests that Turkish traders were initially offering traditional Turkish black tea to tourist. Still, it did not prove to be popular. Therefore, they had to invent and make sweet tea and started to blend black tea with dried apples for the tourists. I saw powdered versions of this tea, and I do not want to think about what is in the ‘tea’. Smith says it is made with ‘purely artificial apple flavouring’. Obviously, I am not up for trying that powdered thing, but I gave the dried apples a go.
Apple is essential for Turkic people as it is believed apple comes from Kazakhstan. Indeed, ‘Alma-Ata’ (in Turkish) or Almaty (the former capital city) means ‘ancestor of the apple’. However, if it was not for the tourists, I am not sure if somebody would have invented this tea. It makes a pleasant fruit tea, but possibly, it is more nutritious to eat the apple itself rather than drinking its infusion. I did end up eating some of the apple pieces which were OK.
Harvest time: 2019
Leaves colour: Brown pieces
Liquor colour: Light amber
Tea aroma: Fruity
Tea taste: Subtle sweetness with some tartness
Steeping/brewing: Place a tea spoon of dried apple pieces in hot water (200 ml) around 95°C and brew for up to one minute in gongfu style or up to three minutes in Western-style. You can brew the leaves a couple of times (until the taste is lost). To each infusion add additional time. Experiment for a result that suits your taste.
Shelf life: Up to two years.