Rize, TurkeyAs the western gateway to Asia, it is little wonder that the Anatolian Peninsula (aka the Republic of Turkey) is a big-time tea-consuming region.  Although I have traveled to Turkey several times, I have yet to explore the tea-growing area near the Black Sea in the north-central part of the country.  Now, however, thanks to an email I received, I am excited about finding a way to incorporate that part of Turkey into my next trip.  The email included a reprint of an article, “Brewing a Future from Tea Tourism”, that appeared in one of Turkey’s largest and most influential newspapers, Hurriyet.

With the first paragraph, I was transported to the “secret tea garden” it described as “an escape from the urban jungle.” Having recently spent a week in and around New York City – the mother of all urban jungles – the thought of breathing fresh mountain air amidst gently flowing streams and wide-open expanses of camellia sinensis and groves of pine sounded heavenly.

Beginning July 18, Turkish tea company Dogadan, which is known mostly for its tisanes, but recently entered the black-tea market, is launching its first-ever tea tour in and around the town of Ayder in the Rize district.  The brainchild of Dogadan Marketing Director Veli Vardarli, the two-day tour offers participants the opportunity to pick tea leaves during the harvesting season.  In addition to picking tea leaves and imbibing some wonderful Turkish tea, which James Norwood Pratt describes in his New Tea Lover’s Treasury as “one of the world’s greatest,” tour attendees will enjoy the region’s local cuisine, including trout and haricot beans, not to mention the inimitable Turkish breakfast.  If you have never savored Turkish black tea with freshly baked simit, you are in for a treat you will not soon forget.

Rize, TurkeyAlthough the minibus ride through the mountains to the Dogadan tea garden in Haremtepe village is an experience not for the faint of heart, the destination is well worth it.  Breathtaking views of the Black Sea and surrounding verdant landscape are your reward, not to mention the chance of a lifetime to harvest tea leaves in ancient Asia Minor.

The tour package, which includes accommodations and food, will only set you back 640 Turkish Liras, which is the equivalent of about 300 Euros or $415.  My attempts to contact Dogadan for more information failed, but I will continue my efforts and will provide an update once I have more information.