Çınaraltı: Istanbul's historical tea garden
A decades-old Istanbul tea garden on the shore of the iconic Bosphorus Strait is a frequent stop for both locals and tourists under its nearly 1,000-year-old sycamore tree.
Located in the Cengelkoy neighborhood on the Asian side of the city, the ancient namesake branches straddling Çınaraltı Cay Bahcesi (Under the Sycamore Tea Garden) shelter customers from the city's hustle and bustle as they enjoy the cool sea breeze with a soothing cup of tea.
Over its nearly half-century in service, Çınaraltı became a gathering place for family and friends, rather than a more commercial venue, as customers are allowed to bring their own food and only requested to buy from the establishment's assortment of warm and cool beverages.
Most importantly, the tea garden is open round-the-clock, never lacking in patrons seeking a moment's respite from the city streets around it.
Entered through a narrow alley, the venue greets visitors with a magnificent Bosphorus view, shared by Istanbul’s famed - and friendly - stray cats and seagulls.
During the 1990s, it was even the set for a popular Turkish TV series called Süper Baba.
İsmet Morgül, Çınaraltı's business manager since 1995, told Anadolu Agency that the venue has been in use as a tea garden since the 1970s.
The absence of music, games, or hookah adds to its serenity. "People come here to chat," Morgül said.
"A very nice environment has been created, there is a family atmosphere here," he said. "People feel very comfortable and peaceful in this family environment."
Some who come to drink tea or coffee stay until the early hours of the morning in the tea garden, he added.
Many well-known figures like Turkish writer Ismet Ozel and others have been frequenters of the tea garden, Morgül said.
These long conversations, accompanied by tea or coffee, Turkey's indispensable beverages, still continue right by the sea, he added.