New-generation initiatives boost ‘Turkish tea tourism’

Türkiye’s northern coast, with its nascent entrepreneurial model, is attracting international tourists through several workshops that delve into the renowned tea production journey.

These workshops offer participants a comprehensive glimpse into the intricate process, from the verdant tea fields of the Black Sea Region, particularly Rize, to the meticulous packaging stages.

Among the attendees were Christina Kierner and Johannes Kierner, a Dutch couple intrigued by the odyssey of the artisanal tea they ordered from Türkiye, prompting them to traverse approximately 4,000 kilometers from Amsterdam to Rize.

In the tea gardens, this couple in their fifties harvested tea by hand and subsequently produced “black,” “oolong” and “green” varieties during the workshop. The Kiener couple also celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary by exchanging the teas they crafted.

Captivated by her inaugural visit to the region, Christina Kierner remarked, “Prior to this, I had scant knowledge about tea and Türkiye. I’ve realized the profound difference between my previous understanding and my current insights. Producing tea is a venerable occupation, demanding significant effort and dedication.”

“My familiarity with Türkiye was largely confined to the Marmara Region, with Rize being merely a name on the map. Our tea-driven quest here has left me profoundly impressed,” Johannes Kierner added.

“It’s my first encounter with a tea plant. The mountains,cuisine, and warmth of the people have deeply moved me. I am immensely grateful.”

Seda Algün, the group guide, who along with her husband runs a tea shop in Austria, mentioned that they frequently receive inquiries from foreigners about the production processes.

“We wilted the tea we harvested yesterday, rolled it today, and now it will ferment, followed by drying in the oven, after which we will savor it. Our guests are tea aficionados who have come here to deepen their knowledge,” Algün said.

“Unfortunately, Turkish tea is primarily recognized by expatriate Turks abroad. Foreigners seldom know about Turkish tea, often perceiving it as inferior. Our aim is to alter this perception. We truly have extraordinary, high-quality, hand-crafted teas,” she added.

Cengiz Yoğurtçu, the proprietor of one of the workshops in the Black Sea region, emphasized the significance of this initiative in amplifying the recognition of Turkish tea.

Tea exports from Rize saw a remarkable increase of 29 percent in 2023, reaching a total of $10.2 million, according to the official numbers.

With each passing year, the production and export of tea from Rize continue to grow, with the highest demand coming from Belgium, Turkish Cyprus and the United States.

From January to December 2023, Rize exported 2,021 tons of tea to Belgium, generating a revenue of $8 million.

Source: hurriyetdailynews

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