What is Salep drink?

Have you ever drink cup of salep? If you visit Turkey during the winter season, you can order salep, a hot beverage in many cafes. Salep is a milk and flower based hot drink made of wild orchid powder. Salep has been extracted from the tubers of various kinds of Orchis. In the cafes usually serve real salep. You can also buy salep powder in a box such as Mado salep from grocery stores, even they sell (I remember buying from Pehlivanoğlu store, it was SEK brand) liquid salep some grocery stores like Migros, Tansas, Pehlivanoğlu etc. If you are living outside of Turkey, you may have a hard time to find salep, mostly because it is not commonly known drink in abroad. The real salep is made of dried powdered roots of a mountain orchid. Salep tubers are the subterranean parts of Orchis morio and other varieties of Orchis. They are gathered during flowering season. So collected Orchid roots are dried and processed into Salep powder. The roots are decorticated, washed, heated until horny in appearance, and then dried.
In Turkey mostly Orchis Ophyrus and Serapias flowers used for salep. The pre-packaged salep has more artificial taste. What is the real salep taste like? Perhaps I can describe as mildly sweet, a little thick,  creamy and slightly grainy. Turkey is the major Salep producing country. In Turkey it is called Salep, in Persia Saalab‎, and some other Arabic countries called Sahlep, Sahlab, sometimes Saloop. Salep is not only consumed as drink in Turkey, but also used in ice cream. Especially “Maraş Dondurması” gum like hard ice cream contains salep.

I am lucky that even though I live in Portland Oregon USA, I can buy salep here from Barbur World Foods. Thanks to owner John Attar who loves Turkish food, he sells in his store many Turkish products including Başak salep.

salep drink

Until a few years ago I was bringing salep in my luggage, every time I travelled to Turkey. I was thinking when would I get into trouble to explain TSA guys, that white power is not actually drugs, it is a Turkish powdered beverage salep! As you can imagine, I do not think any TSA guy would ever understand what I was saying. Luckily no one asked me questions and no one cared about my favorite drink in my luggage. Nowadays I just buy salep from John’s store. Even Rob loves to drink it, he makes it better than me.


If you have salep drink (in a box) at your home here how you do it:

In a deep sauce pan add cold milk and salep powder into the pan. For each cup add 3 tsp salep (10gr) into cold milk, stir until boil it. Salep should be thickening in a few minutes. Pour the hot drink into the cup. Do not add sugar, all prepackaged salep drinks contains sugar already. Sprinkle cinnamon on top before serving.

I truly love drinking salep winter time. During all my university years I used to go to Ömeraga cafe in Alsancak (Kordon), Izmir, Turkey, watch the sunset, drink hot salep. They had old style large copper salep maker, served hot salep with lots of ground cinnamons on top of white porcelain cups.

Salep drink has herbal therapeutic effects, it helps to heal cold and coughing.

salep drink

More to read about salep:
In Turkish:
Synonyms: Salep. Saloop. Sahlep. Satyrion. Levant Salep.
Salep Bevarage: Salep is a Turkish drink made from the roots of several species of orchids, prepared with milk.
Part Used: Roots
Botanical Name: Orchis maculata, Orchis latifolia, Orchis mascula, Orchis Morio, Orchis militaris, Orchis saccifera, Orchis pyrimidalis, Orchis coriphora, Orchis conopea

Nutrition facts per serving – a cup (salep in a pre-packaged boxed; such as Başak salep):
Calories: 111
Total fat (g): 3.33
Carbohydrates (g): 16.5
Protein (g): 3.87
For 100ml Prepared with milk

salep hot drink