Guide to Turkish drinks

Cay time! Tea is something the Turks don’t restrict simply to afternoons. As a nation, they are tea-crazy! As well as tea, there are lots of drinks that are popular in Turkey but unusual for visitors. If you are an intrepid explorer and keen to try new things read on for an explanation of some of the drinks on offer in Turkey.

Kahve, Cay and Elma cay

(Turkish coffee – pronounced kar-vay, Tea pronounced ch-eye, and apple tea pronounced el-ma ch-eye)

Turkish coffee will wake you up. It is commonly much stronger than coffee available in Europe and often thick enough that a spoon will stand in it. It is believed that your fortune can be told from tipping the remains of your coffee into the saucer, leaving it to settle and examining them. Turkish tea is served without milk (though it can be asked for) It is served in a too-hot-to-hold tulip-shaped glass and is often strong and fragrant. Apple Tea is like hot, weak apple juice.

Turkish coffee. Photo credit: izzet kulaksiz


Ayran (eye-ran) is a yoghurt-based drink. Yoghurt is thinned with water and then flavoured with salt. It is meant to be very good for you in hot weather as it re-balances your salt levels and good in general as a source of calcium and good bacteria that help your tummy. It is very refreshing but can leave you with an attractive yoghurty moustache. Beware!

Ayran (Turkish yoghurt drink) Photo credit: Robyn Lee


Raki (rack-y) is an aniseed-flavoured spirit commonly served with water. When diluted with the water the raki goes cloudy white. In Turkish it is lovingly referred to as “Arslan suyu” meaning ‘Lions milk’ because if you drink enough of it you will roar like a lion.

Raki (Turkish aniseed drink) Photo credit: Karsten Berlin


Salgam (shall-gam) is a juice drink made from root vegetables, namely dark carrots and turnips. It originates in the South East of Turkey and a spicy version is available incorporating paprika. It can be served with raki and is believed to be a hangover cure.

Salgam. Photo credit: Tomislav Medak


Sahlep (sar-lep) is a milky drink made from ground orchid roots. It can be served hot or cold.

Do you like to try new things when you travel?

Photo credit: Andrius Aleksandravičius


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