Writer: Kareem Wright
Which country did you think drank the most tea? China? England?
Nope, I was surprised to learn that it was actually Turkey. Turkey's annual consumption of tea per capita is the highest in the world. But Turkey didn’t wake up one day and just start drinking tea. Being part of the Ottoman Empire and in no small part thanks to Yemen, Turkey had a near constant supply of coffee.
So much coffee in fact that back in the 1500’s Turkey had a serious caffeine addiction. Extreme to the point a woman could divorce her husband if he wasn’t providing enough of the stuff. It got worst, after the fall of the Ottoman Empire and with it the loss of Yemen during World War I Turkey’s near endless supply of coffee was gone. A country of Jittery caffeine addicts with no fix in sight.
Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey came up with a solution. They needed a replacement for coffee. A caffeine substitute, tea had been exposed to the Turkish before But coffee had too much of a hold on the Turks for tea to catch on. But during Ataturk’s reign it was discovered that Tea, Camellia Sinensis could be grown and flourish in Turkey’s Rize province. Meaning that a decent coffee alternative could be produced domestically, a Turkish drink for Turkey by Turkey.
Ataturk set about encouraging the people to drink tea, and soon Turkish tea was the main staple of Turkish social life. Tea with meals, tea for guests, tea for talk, tea for bridal showers and the list goes on. A new drink for a new era and the habit stuck fast. Today Turkey is the number one per capita consumer of tea IN THE WORLD, and coffee consumption lags way, way behind.