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Maya Karueva, Kalmyk Tea



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Terbish, Baasanjav 
Churyumova, Elvira 


Maya gives a tea recipe and talks about ceremonies, beliefs, and legends related to Kalmyk tea. There is a Kalmyk saying that ‘Although paper is thin, it is the servant of science/ Although tea is liquid, it is the crown of all dishes’. Another saying is that ‘Sorrow has 108 songs’. When tea is boiled, Kalmyks stir it 108 times, saying to themselves, ‘Let nothing bad happen to (me/us)/ Oh, skies, defend (me/us) from the 108 sorrows’. When the tea is ready, it is a Kalmyk custom to pour its first part into a cup and offer it to gods while uttering, ‘I am offering this to Heavens, to Master of Universe Tsagan Aav, to Great Jangar, to Chingis Khan, to earth and ancestors’. The next day that cup should be given to children or elders to drink inside the family. Recipe: Use clean spring water. Boil it, add tea, and boil for another 5 minutes. Add milk, salt, and mix it. Leave to boil for additional 5 minutes. Pour the tea to another pot, add butter, stir 108 times, and add nutmeg. A well-wish uttered before drinking tea is: ‘Let tea and milk be in abundance/ So that both you and we could live long and happily/ Let our work and wishes be fulfilled/ Let us live without wars and illnesses/ Let the sky and Master of Universe Tsagan Aav bless us!’ The Kalmyks believe that melted butter has medicinal properties. It can be used as a skin cream, for example. People also drink tea with butter to regain strength. There is a legend that one day when Chingis Khan was fighting in China, he became thirsty and asked a local family for water. Instead he was given a cup of tea. Kalmyk tea can be mixed with meat. First, tea is cooked as usual. Then cooked sheep’s ribs are added and left to boil for another 10 minutes. The meaty tea is very delicious and nutritious. It is possible to add fried flour or millet to it.



Tea, recipe, ceremony, legend

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