Our time in Livera Kamping was fantastic, but it was again time to get our motorcycles riding back on the tea roads of Turkey.
We cannot thank enough the fantastic team of Livera’s that not only made us feel extremely comfortable but made us feel like home. However our trip has a goal, and that is to find tea and wine.
Wine in Turkey came out empty for us. We did not find any vineyards, neither did we manage to make any contacts, but failure is part of learning, and we did not - totally - fail on the tea side.
We decided that we would need to come close to Rize, the “tea capital” of Turkey, or at least that is how most people kept on describing it to us, so from Livera’s we made our way into CayKent Suits, a hotel that has Cay - tea - on its name, told us it would be a good starting place to ask questions.
Far from being disappointed, we made our way there seeing tea all over the place, and when I say all over, I mean it quite literally. From the side of the road to house gardens, tea jumps out of the mountains once you start arriving closer and closer to Rize, a sight that would accompany us all the way to Georgia.
Arriving at CayKent, we could not be happier, the hotel was surrounded by tea, and we were greeted by Mustafa, the General Manager with whom we had exchanged a few words a few days later when booking the room. Better than all the tea, was the news that Mustafa had a tea factory, and that he was willing to show us around, not only the factory but the little village where he grew, on the outskirts of Kıyıcık where the hotel is located.
Some singing, dancing, talking, games of backgammon and many many cups of tea after, we found ourselves on the way to the tea plantation, guided by our newly appointed tour guide, Mustafa. Our timing was not precise, and we arrived 2 weeks before the tea season started, so the factories are all preparing for the season, and the plantations, waiting for the pickers to arrive and start chopping away. And yes, chopping, as the Turkish do not hand pick their tea, but rather cut the top of the tea plants with big scissors.
Mustafa factory was small and undergoing a big overhaul for the upcoming season, so although we had a quick stop to see the facilities, we ended up at his uncles cooperative, the oldest one in Turkey where 1200 people deposit their tea at a whopping 150 tons of tea per day during tea picking season. There we were shown how the tea is processed, and we were treated to a surprise we were not expecting to see in Turkey, green tea. If their Turkish tea, is a low caffeinated black tea that does not stop reminding me of over-brewed Earl Grey, their green tea presented itself as a milder version of that. With aromas of black tea and general palate notes of green, it quickly became my favourite tea in Turkey.
That day, the tea factory visit day was a very interesting and full day, but not even that stopped us from waking up a bit under the weather. Neither of us was feeling super excited about our findings, with the trip, with the adventure, but there is only way one, and that is forward. Plan plotted, let's make our way into Georgia and start a new chapter on our adventure!
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