Sofya Olzeeva, Kalmyk Tea

Terbish, Baasanjav 
Churyumova, Elvira 

No Thumbnail Available
Change log

Sofya talks about tea making recipes, a ritual of sprinkling tea (tsatsl), and tea drinking among the Kalmyks. In Kalmykia, the Holiday of Kalmyk Tea takes place annually. The first time it was held at the local stadium in Elista where Sofya was invited to give a talk on how to make tea. In the past, tea, which was pressed into blocks, was kept in a leather bag (uut) and cut with a knife. Today people use tea bags. There are two ways of making Kalmyk tea. Recipe 1. Put tea and salt into water and boil it, stirring well. Then add milk and butter, and stir it again. Recipe 2. This recipe is suitable for tea bags. Boil water, add milk, and let it boil again. For each liter of water use half a liter of milk. Then add tea, salt, butter, and quickly put the lid on the pan so that the steam does not escape. After that boil for 10 more minutes. The first cup of fresh tea is offered to elderly people. Only after that can it be served to others. Any socially important occasion – be it a wedding, a funeral, sending children off to school, etc. - starts with drinking Kalmyk tea. Every meal also starts with tea. On important occasions, such as holidays (Tsagan Sar, Zul) or when the family is sending a member on a journey, the first part of the freshly cooked tea (tsatsl) is sprinkled to the sky as an offering to gods. The person who performs it, has to hold a spoon with tea in his/her right hand, open the door, and sprinkle the tea upwards. After this, the first cup of tea is put on the altar as an offering to gods and ancestors. During holidays or weddings the person who utters well-wishes holds a cup of tea, touches the tea with the tip of his/her right index or ring finger, and sprinkles upwards 3 times while saying, ‘Oh, gods’. During funerals tea is also served first to an elderly person. This time it has to be sprinkled not upwards but downwards on the ground. While doing this nothing (no well-wishes) should be said. This tea is dedicated to the dead. By contrast, tea sprinkled upwards is dedicated to the sky, gods, the sun, and all living beings.

Tea, ritual, recipe
Sponsored by Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.