Photo: Bilal Kocabas/Shutterstock

How to Find Sherbet, a Refreshing Beverage Sold by Mobile Vendors in Turkiye

Türkiye Food + Drink
by Matador Creators Jan 10, 2023

This refreshing drink enjoyed in Turkiye is sold by mobile vendors, who carry a clever tea dispensing machine on their backs along with reusable cups.

@foodwtf This #streetfood vendor in #Türkiye sells a refreshing drink called sherbet. It's typically made with dried fruit and spices 😍 🎥 @bayangezenbayyiyen #turkey #turkishstreetfood #foodie #streetfoodguideturkey ♬ Aesthetic – Tollan Kim

Turkiye sherbet isn’t tea – although Turkiye is one of the top tea consuming countries in the world – but a refreshing fruit based beverage. Also known as Ottoman sherbet, it might have become so popular in Turkiye because the consumption of alcohol was forbidden during the reign of the Ottoman Empire. The name sherbet is probably a derivation of the Arabic words shariba or sharba, which mean “to drink.”

Sherbet can come in many different flavors, from rose, hibiscus, and pomegranate, to cardamom, tamarind and mint. The foundation of the drink, however, is typically made with sugar and water, flower petals, and fruit, and it can be spiced with cloves and cinnamon. The concentrated juice from dark fruits, usually plums and cherries, give sherbet its signature flavor and rich red-magenta color. Sometimes the juice of purple grapes is also added, or a touch or lemon juice or honey for sweetness.

The 1900s, sherbet sellers were a much more common sight, and they carried huge tanks on their backs festooned with flags. Today, if you do come across a sherbet vendor, his tank is likely to be much more modest, although he will still pour you a cup right there on the street. The tank (or ewer) on the vendor’s back comes with a spigot attached, from which he pours the sherbet by leaning forward. The cups he carries are reusable, so you might have to drink it right there on the spot, and hand the cup back to him, which has likely been used many times before.

Sherbet is still made widely in homes, especially around Ramadan. If you don’t run across a sherbet street vendor in Turkiye, there are restaurants that serve the beverage, too, in order to keep the sherbet tradition alive.

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