Originally published on March 10, 2015. Updated December 25, 2015.
“Come up to Misi some weekend and visit our new tea house. Bring your family and I’ll show you around,” my friend Yusuf invited me one evening as we sipped tea at a sidewalk café. “Melek and I and a couple of friends are trying something new in Misi. We have a big old house that we’re renovating. It has a kitchen, a meeting room, and a nice garden out back. We’ve named it Organik Ev, and we’ve opened it to the public and we’re selling homemade food and other goods. We grow fresh herbs and vegetables in a sustainable way and we make everything we sell by hand, from jams and fruit juices to soaps and hand lotions. Everything we make and sell is organic and natural.”
To be honest, I don’t tend to get too excited about soaps and hand lotions, but I do really get jazzed about quaint little tea houses in quaint little villages. So when Yusuf told me about this project that he and his wife had started and invited me up to take a look around, I knew I needed to get to the historic village of Misi at my earliest opportunity. Finally one nice Sunday afternoon, Amy and the kids and I hopped on a bus bound for Misi.
Also known by its modern name, Gümüştepe, Misi is a rustic streamside village nestled in the foothills of Uludağ just a few kilometers from Bursa’s city center. With a history that extends back nearly 2000 years, Misi has an interesting back story. In the second century AD, a group of Christians settled in the village, then named Misipolis. Records indicate that early discussions about the various books that compose the Bible were hosted by the monks living at the Misipolis monastery. Centuries later, Ottoman warriors hid and trained in the hills and valleys around Misi as they successfully attempted to wrest Bursa out of the hands of the Byzantines.
Today, Misi is a quiet, traditional, Ottoman-style village that features peaceful streamside cafés and a small handful of tourist attractions, such as the little ethnographic museum just up from the village square. Narrow streets wind their way through clusters of wooden, centuries-old houses and local farmers sell their vegetables in booths around the centrally situated mosque. For the most part, it appears that Misi residents enjoy a traditional village life. But the village’s proximity to the city means that on the weekends the cafés and streets usually swell up with city slickers looking for a quiet and relaxing getaway.
On our Sunday afternoon, we started our time in Misi with a bite of lunch at a waterside table just upstream from the village bridge. From there, we walked past street vendors selling figs and gourds and then wound our way a couple of blocks past the mosque in search of Yusuf and Melek’s tea house. Finally, at 13 Bardakçi Street, we noticed a little sign next to a door that read “Organik Ev.” Stepping in through the door, we made our way down the cobblestone corridor and into the garden behind the house, where Yusuf and Melek were chatting away with customers about their desire to support sustainable local agriculture and plans to bring more locally produced goods to Organik Ev. As we sat down at a free table in the garden, Yusuf and Melek welcomed us into the conversation.
“We want to expand our growing fields,” Yusuf explained to us. “We make everything we can here,” he said as he passed around a jar of homemade hand cream. “And we hope to produce all of our goods right here in the future, like the olive oil.” The organic olive oil was one of the few products that had to be brought in from outside producers.
After sampling herbal tea and handmade lemonade in the garden, we were led upstairs to the tea room. Brightly upholstered couches lined the walls and exposed wooden beams gave the room a homey, rustic feel. The scent of incense and the sound ethereal music filled the air. Amy grabbed a jar of organic strawberry preserves off the shelf while I took a peek at the lunch menu. In addition to natural beverages, Organik Ev offers a nice lineup of homemade lunch items.
“Here’s where we host events and meetings,” Yusuf continued. “Groups and clubs can use this space for whatever they wish, and during the week, we offer workshops on natural cooking, arts and crafts, and hand cream making.”
Recently, Organik Ev has branched out beyond food and art. Yusuf, a trained music teacher, now offers Orff music classes for children on Saturday mornings. Orff is a style of music education that integrates rhythm, movement, drama, play, social interaction, and everyday objects and activities. And Yusuf seemed particularly excited about Organik Ev’s newest project: on Sunday mornings beginning in March 2015, Organik Ev will be offering live music, traditional breakfast, and an organic food and products bazaar.
As we walked out of Organik Ev’s door that Sunday afternoon, we knew that we had just found a neat little gem in this quaint little village. Organik Ev is certainly a Best of Bursa, and we try to stop in whenever we find ourselves wandering around the old streets of Misi.
Notes on Misi and Organik Ev
- You can find Organik Ev at 13 Bardakçi Sokak in the historical Misi Village. Here’s a map. Learn more about Organik Ev and its current programs on their Facebook page.
- Most people go to Misi to eat a meal at a streamside table. If this is your thing, when you get to the village head to the stream and pick a café on either side. Afterwards, walk up into the village and enjoy the sights or visit the Misi Ethnographic Museum. Of course, be sure to walk up the hill to have a cup of tea with Yusuf, Melek, and their friends at Organik Ev.
- To get to Misi (Gümüştepe) using public transportation, take bus B-20/A or B-20/B from Acemler metro station.