Traditional Turkish Drinks

In Turkey, you can discover a wide range of drinks, each offering a taste of the country’s diverse beverage culture.

Among the classic Turkish drinks are Çay (tea), Ayran (a yogurt-based drink), Rakı (an anise-flavored spirit), and Şalgam (a drink made from fermented black carrot juice).

To help you explore these options, here’s a list of 12 traditional Turkish drinks you should try!

1. Turkish çay

Cay Traditional Turkish Drinks

Cay is the typical Turkish black tea from the Black Sea region of Turkey that farmers have been growing in the Rize province for 100 years.

Tea is omnipresent in Turkey, at bazaars you see young men delivering tea for the sellers, you drink it in between meals, all restaurants have it on offer and there are even tea gardens.

The tea’s characteristic is the strong taste, the bright red color in the tulip-shaped tea glasses, and the preparation in a caydanlik, copied from the Russian samovar.

2. Raki

 Yeni Raki Traditional Turkish Drinks

Raki is the national alcoholic drink of Turkey! Strong aniseed shots have been one of the most typical drinks in Anatolia for centuries.

Raki is characterized by the taste of anise and the milky color that results from mixing with water.

In Turkey, raki is also called Aslan Sütü “lion’s milk”. In seafood restaurants in Turkey, raki is an indispensable addition to a good mezze platter!

3. Kahve

Kahve Traditional Turkish Drinks

Turkish mocha “Kahve” has a very long tradition. After all, the Ottoman Empire originally imported coffee from Ethiopia to Europe via the city of Mocha in Yemen.

The first coffee house on European soil was in Istanbul in 1554. The special preparation of Turkish mocha in a cezve “Ibrik” is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its long history.

The coffee is available from stands as a kind of street food in the old town of Istanbul and also in cafes.

4. Ayran

Ayran Traditional Turkish Drinks

Ayran is a drink made from yogurt, water, and salt. It is the drink with the longest history in Turkish culture, which the nomadic Turkic peoples of Central Asia already prepared. Ayran is considered very healthy in Turkey.

This is originally because Ayran mitigates or neutralizes bacteria in meat dishes, which was important to early nomadic peoples. Ayran tastes good with typical meat dishes from Turkey, for example, an Adana kebab.

5. Salep

Salep Traditional Turkish Drinks

Salep is a typical winter drink in Istanbul and the Aegean coast of Turkey. The recipe with dried orchid powder, cinnamon, and milk originally comes from the Ottoman palace kitchen.

Today, it is a perfect option for a warm glass of tea, cocoa, or coffee in winter, for example in the Maiden’s Tower Cafe in Istanbul.

Salep also goes well with Turkish desserts. Some will disagree with me, I think baklava and salep are great in winter.

6. Sherbet

Sherbet Traditional Turkish Drinks

Sherbet is a drink from Persia that found its way to Turkey via the Ottoman palace cuisine. The sweet taste of sherbet is difficult to describe because you make the drink from up to 40 different spices.

These can include, for example, cloves, rose water, sandalwood, bitter oranges, chia seeds, and cinnamon. Sherbet is now particularly popular in Istanbul – sweet shops and many hotels in the seaside resorts now offer the drink.

7. Salgam

Salgam Traditional Turkish Drinks

Salgam is a drink made from the juice of pre-fermented black carrots or red turnips. In Turkey, all supermarkets sell salgam, usually in a hot and mild version.

The juice tastes sour and has a spicy note.

In Turkey, Salgam is mostly drunk with the typical meat dishes from the Turkish traditional cuisine.

8. Sarap

Sarep Traditional Turkish Drinks

“Sarap” wine has a tradition in Turkey that goes back thousands of years. The grapevine originally comes from the Caucasus region, on the border with Georgia.

The first archaeological finds of grapevines in Turkey are more than 5,000 years old. The wines from Cappadocia, for example, Turasan, the Kalecik Karase from Ankara, Trajan, and the wine from the Aegean region particularly stand out in Turkey.

9. Boza

Boza Traditional Turkish Drinks

Boza is a Turkish beer made from millet with a sweet, sparkling taste and a light alcohol content of around 1%. Similar alcoholic drinks existed throughout Asia Minor in ancient times.

However, it is assumed that nomadic tribes brought the original form of Boza to Turkey. For example, the Seljuks knew a beer-like drink called Bekni.

10. Andiz Syrup

Andiz Traditional Turkish Drinks

I include Andiz syrup in the list, representing the many other local drinks available in Turkey.

The sweet syrup is particularly popular on the Turkish south coast, especially in the province of Antalya. You make it from the long boiled, rounded cones of the tree.

11. Tursu

Tursu Traditional Turkish Drinks

Tursu is the name for foods pickled in vinegar and brine. The resulting juice is a quite popular drink in Turkey.

The taste is obviously sour because Turks pickle everything, and I mean everything! Between vegetables, strawberries, and all sorts of other fruits you can find almost all flavors.

12. Vişne suyu

Cherry Juice Traditional Turkish Drinks

Cherries came to Europe from the Turkish Black Sea coast, from the region around the city of Giresun. In ancient times it was called Kerasos.

The name of cherries in almost all European languages ​​goes back to the city. Many drinks made from cherry juice (vişne suyu) are common in Turkey and you can find them in all supermarkets in the country.