Dem Karakoy Dem Karakoy

Alternative tea houses in Istanbul

Whether negotiating at the bazaar or enjoying a leisurely post-dinner chat, tulip-shaped glasses filled with piping-hot çay are sure to be proffered.

While there’s no chance that Turkish tea, with its ruddy colour and strong taste, will lose its prominent position in the nation’s drinking culture, a spate of new cafes suggests that there is interest in the wide world of tea beyond Turkey’s borders. So if you’re hankering for an oolong or green tea, or you’re dying for something other than the ubiquitous Turkish tea, one of these Istanbul cafes will have you covered.

Cha’ya Galata

chayaCha’ya Galata © Facebook

Just a short walk from Galata Tower, this cosy tea room is the perfect spot to warm yourself up while sightseeing on a cold winter day. The comfy chairs and relaxed yet stylish interior will envelop you to the point where you couldn’t imagine going back outdoors and braving the elements. Most importantly, there are a wide variety of teas on offer, many of them loose leaf, and each type comes served in its own special teapot. The Jasmine Pearls tea, which features hand-rolled young Chinese green tea leaves that bloom during the brewing process, has a heady aroma of jasmine and a delicate sweetness, while the Moroccan Mint tea will give you a jolt with its invigorating combination of mint and sugar. If you happen to stop by in the morning, you can also order from their extensive breakfast menu.

As a bonus, Cha’ya Galata’s position slightly above street level makes the cafe ideal for covert people watching. You can observe the tourists and chic locals going about their business with a cup of something warm and exotic in hand.

Related: Istanbul's best restaurants for Turkish cuisine

Dem Karaköy

dem-karakoyDem Karaköy

This tea room is in the heart of the hip Karaköy neighbourhood, and it embodies all of the area’s best qualities – a genuine interest in the delivering high quality goods in a contemporary setting – without any of the pretension that can take root in these fashionable enclaves. Dem Karaköy carries the favourites of many tea lovers, including a variety of white and green teas. But the best by far are their smoked teas, a rarity in Istanbul. While smoked teas are certainly an acquired taste – the tea is dried over a pinewood fire and takes on a distinctive smoky taste – they offer multiple layers of flavour that will excite diehard tea drinkers.

Related: Karaköy, Istanbul: a guide

Cofy Tea

cofy-teaCofy Tea

Kadıköy, a neighbourhood on the Asian side, is developing a reputation for itself as Beyoğlu’s more laidback and slightly edgier cousin. Just as new bars and restaurants keep popping up, so to is Kadıköy’s cafe culture growing and evolving. Despite the hokey name and the fact that it got its start in a neighbouring mall, Cofy Tea is part of this renaissance. With a menu that features both coffee and teas, Cofy Tea has something for you and your friend who just can’t get on the tea bandwagon. If you’re unsure about what to order, the teas from Nepal have a tantalising floral aroma and are particularly tasty.

1 Cha’ya Galata
2 Dem Karaköy
3 Cofy Tea