Tea drinking customs - Mongolian Salty milk tea

By Emma Chang | 08 November 2018 | 0 Comments
The salty milk tea that the Mongolian people drink is mostly made of dark brick tea, and is cooked in a wok,which is different from the way Tibetans use teapot to make buttered tea and Uygurs use teapot to make milk-tea. But they have one thing in common which is they add milk when they are “cooking the tea”. The reason why they “cooking the tea” is because the atmospheric pressure on the highland is low and the boiling point of water is less than 100℃, also the process of producing brick tea is different from that of loose tea. Since brick tea is compact and dense, it is very hard to soak the brick tea totally by boiled water.

When cooking salty milk tea, brick tea should be smashed into small pieces first. Place the clean iron pot on the stove and fill the pot with 2-3 kilograms of water. When the water in the pot boils, add about 25 grams of small pieces of brick tea. After the water has been boiled for 3-5 minutes, mix some milk into water, the amount of which should be about one-fifth of the water. After a short while, add a moderate amount of salt, and the salty milk tea will be ready when the tea water in the iron pot begins to boil.
The nomad Mongolians usually have one meal in the evening after they come back from herding. They are used to their everyday diet of “three teas and one meal”. For breakfast and lunch, they only drink milk tea, milk and milk products which are commonly referred as “breakfast tea” and “lunch tea.” They eat some fried rice, milk cookies and grilled meat as well. For dinner, they have beef and lamb as their main food, and also drink some milk tea for better digestion before going to bed. Middle-aged and old men drink tea more often. An average Mongolian consumes up to about 8 kilograms of tea every year, and some of them consume more than 15 kilograms annually.

In Mongolian families, guests are usually treated with milk tea. The host usually places a small table in front of the guest, on which bowls of salt, sugar, fried rice and milk curd would be served. The hostess would present a bowl of tea, and the guest can then add salt or sugar. Fried rice should be put in the milk tea, while milk curd can be eaten together with the sugar (this is a hunger-resistant food). The guest should not drink the milk tea all at once, but should always leave some milk tea in the cup so that the host can add more all the time and this way show respect for the guest.

The Mongolians value drinking (tea) much more than eating (food), and yet are still so strong. This, of course, has a lot to do with the climate of the local pastoral area, and the working conditions. But it is also because the salty milk tea contains a lot of nutrition, because it has lot of ingredients. Besides, the Mongolians often have something like fried rice or cookies when drinking to keep themselves full.
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