Discover Amazing Turkey Black Sea
By Eren Kapti
The Black Sea at the edge of Europe, surrounded by breathtaking coastlines. It has long been a hidden gem. Propane in the north and Asian in the South this region brings together six countries that couldn’t be more different: Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Romania and Bulgaria. What they do have in common is the wealth of the sea they share. It brings them tea, fish and wine. This corner of the world is exhilarating, full of contrast and with a checkered past. All traditions and bold strides into the future.
The Black Sea and its bordering countries, Turkey has the longest coastal line which is 1500 kilometres along the Kara Dennis [the Turkish word for inland sea]. The Black Sea stretches along Turkey’s North Coast fishing is just one pillar of prosperity in the region. The fertile backlands are also ideal for growing tea, hazelnuts and tobacco. Trabzon is one of the most important regional trading centers with nearly 250,000 inhabitants, it’s one of Turkey’s largest Black Sea ports. Around 99% of Turkey’s population is Muslim. Turkey has officially separated church and state since 1928 and still does today.
Turkey is one of the world’s five largest tea producer about 250,000 tons harvested here every year but outside of Turkey hardly anybody knows that because so much is consumed in country, there is hardly any leftover to export. In the past years most farmers have switched to producing organic tea.
The workers spend about 8 hours in the field each day. Most of the tea plantations have been in the family for generations. A strong aromatic kind of black tea grows in the mountains of Rize province. 2/3 of the Turkish crop comes from this area. It’s hard working on a steep, shadeless plantations. One sack can way up to 50 kilos. Trucks flip back and forth between the fields and factories each day. Tea leaves spoil quickly so the quicker they are processed the better. Weather permitting this region can have up to three tea harvests between May and September.
Artvin province lies on the border with Georgia. Many here belong to the last and minority group who are mostly settled in northeastern Turkey. Kemenche is the musical instrument of the Black Sea region. Most songs on the kemenche are about love. For some, the instrument perfectly reflects what it’s like to live by the Black Sea. But the tulum also plays an important role. The Tulum was originally a shepherd’s instrument by a small back pipe with its penetrating sound. It is an intrinsic part of folk music in northeastern Turkey, and it said to have quite other qualities too. Muslim clerics in some villages once said the Tulum was sinful and some old musicians once told that every note that tulum made was directly related to hell and that the notes beckoned ‘come hell, come, I cannot cross the bridge to heaven’. But so far, the Tulum has ever done harm to anyone.
The tea plantations leave unmistakable patterns on the steep slopes in the hinterland and the black seacoast. There is a province which is perfect for growing tea, mainly because of its high precipitation. Rains fall mostly between the sea and the Kachkar mountains it makes this landscape particularly green and fertile.
White tea is very valuable because only the top of the plant is picked by hand. The picked piece is called the golden needle. It takes around 30,000 handpicked plants to produce 1kg of white tea. What makes it different is the gentle processing. It is dried only with natural air circulation. 1 kilo of white tea costs up to 300 euros and it is said to have healing and medicinal propitiates (lowering blood pressure for ex.).
Tea is a Turkish passion and good business Turkish people drink more than 200 litres per capita. But not only does tea thrive in this special climate so do hazelnuts. about 80% of the world harvest is produced in the coastal mountains of the Turkish Black Sea coast especially in the region around Giresun.
The Byzantine castle Giresun is the symbol of the city. It was built in the 2nd century BC. Not far from the castle, there is one of the largest hazelnut factories in Turkey. More than 20,000 tons are produced by the Fisko Birlik cooperative alone each year. Hazelnuts account for about 70% of the regional economy. they have shaped the work of the people by the Black Sea, especially women for centuries. First the hazelnuts are sorted and then roasted twice, this creates a special aroma but before the nut is processed, chopped, pureed or pressed into chocolate biscuits or ice creams it is examined in the lab for its suitability. To many, working with hazelnuts by the shores of the Black Sea is a way of life.
For a long time, the fishing grounds of the Black Sea seemed inexhaustible until the environmental impacts of the past century made it one of the most threatened seas on earth. 7000 years ago, the Black Sea was still a huge freshwater lake.
Venice straight emerged the Bosphorus, the bridge to the Mediterranean. Since then, there have been two layers of water on top of each other above the lighter fresh water from the rivers and below the heavy salt water from the Mediterranean. The fish stay in between both layers. Along the coast one fishing village joins with the next. Fish from the Black Sea is so delicious because the salt content is so low. Each season has different types of fish they alternate 12 months a year, for example, seabass and tuna season is around February, the turbot season is in April bonito and sea bass are available in August. Some fish even return from the sea of Marmara in October. But like all seas the Black Sea has been suffering from sustained overfishing for years.
Another black sea city is Samsun. It is the largest industrial and port city in the Black Sea coast. More than a million people live there. Perfect microclimates create perfect condition for tobacco in demand the world over. Not only is tobacco good business for farmers, but it also makes their soil more fertile; grains grow better wherever tobacco was once planted. And the Bafra delta, because allure Mac flows into the Black Sea, the entire area is under conservation. Around 140 species of birds live in this special biotope. Around 100,000 waterfowl hibernate here in autumn and winter. rare wild horses have also settled in the delta.
About 300 kilometers from path on the West side of the Black Sea coast lies Amasra. A small harbor town the Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror called the eye of the world, conqueror of Constantinople and founder of the Ottoman Empire had the town built on this beautiful coast. Amasra is a peninsula at the front and an island of the back connected by bridge from the 9th century. Today due to its location between Istanbul and Ankara the coastal town is a popular destination for people from the two cities. There are no big concrete hotel blocks here and western tourists are still rare. In the streets not far from the harbor traders offer traditionally handmade goods. According to legend an Egyptian galley brought woodcrafter to Amasra 5000 years ago the workers from that ship passed on their knowledge to the inhabitants last establishing an artist and tradition.
Istanbul is located on the Bosphorus about five hours drive away. The Bosphorus is a Strait between Europe and Asia that connects the Black Sea with the sea of Marmara all shipping must pass through its Istanbul is home to around 14 million people in addition more than 10 million tourists come here every year. They all want to take in the sights and sounds of the more than 2500 years of history. Once the greatest church in early Christianity the Hagia Sophia is the city’s main landmark.
People of the Black Sea are as moody as the Black Sea itself. You never know what will happen. Many captains are afraid of the Black Sea. If you are in a need of adventure, you should add Black Sea to your bucket list.