In Turkey, the ritual of tea colors everyday life in ways not seen in many cultures. Sit down in a carpet shop with little likelihood of buying anything and tea will be served as long as you remain. Make a modest purchase in a shop—as I did in Bodrum when I bought three skirts for my wife and two daughters—and the owner will send out for tea, apple or black, your choice.
But I’d never seen or tasted “yellow tea,” served to us in a café seldom visited by tourists in the village of Bozalan. The men of the town had congregated there, as they no doubt do every day, and welcomed us to their fraternity.
At our captain’s recommendation we ordered the local brew, and when it came the pale yellow tea had a grassy, earthy smell and flavor that was hard to identify. Eventually someone recognized it: sage. It tasted of the dry earth and local fields, an herb tea I plan to try to recreate at home. But without the hourglass-shaped glass, demi-spoon, and our Turkish hosts watching over us it probably won’t be the same. I’ll try nonetheless, and I can call that village scene to mind whenever I do.