In Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, the first ray of smoke rose from an old milk tea house in the early morning. At five or six o’clock, there is an endless stream of people drinking “morning tea”.
“Mongolian milk tea, called ‘Sutaiqie’ in Mongolian, uses green brick tea, which is made from Hubei Laoqing tea (belonging to dark tea), the soup is bright red and yellow, and the tea is mellow.” Manager Hasigowa and the employees started busy at four in the morning. “First brew the green brick tea, boil it in boiling water, raise the tea juice 81 times to fully release the tea aroma, and then clarify the tea juice for use.”
Brick tea is rich in vitamins and trace elements. The brewed Mongolian milk tea not only has the functions of quenching thirst and hunger, warming the stomach, and helping digestion but also supplements nutrition for herdsmen who lack green vegetables.
In Mongolian homes, after morning tea, the hostess will warm the remaining milk tea on a small fire so that the family can drink it at any time.
“Drink when I eat, drink when I’m thirsty, and drink when I’m tired… It can provide me with the energy I need throughout the day.” Balaji Nyima, a herdsman who has lived on the Hulunbuir grassland since he was a child, said that his every day all starts with the milk tea brewed by Eji (Mongolian, mother).
Walking into Hasgaowa’s milk tea shop, you will be greeted with the aroma of milk, tea, and rice.
Each table has a small copper pot, milk skin, milk tofu, milk chewing mouth (the upper layer of milk curdled milk), dried meat, fried rice, butter, butter, fruit sticks (a kind of Mongolian fried pasta), and more than a dozen kinds of milk tea” Companion” for you to choose.
Traditional Mongolian milk tea is not based on cups or bowls, but in terms “pots”. One pot is compatible with Ulan id (Mongolian, meat) and Chagan id (Mongolian, dairy).
Fried rice, is known by many as the “soul” of Mongolian milk tea. It is processed by steaming, frying, grinding, and other processes. It is fragrant and refreshing, and it can satisfy hunger and resist hunger.
Put the butter in a hot pan to dissolve, add the fried rice and stir fry, the creamy fragrance and rice fragrance instantly wake up the cells of the whole body. I saw the waiter Sazhuola skillfully put the tea juice, fresh milk, and salt into the pot in proportion. After they were perfectly blended, they stirred the cream and added the milk skin, milk chews, milk tofu, dried meat, and fruit strips.
Wang Zhi, a Taiwanese tourist who came to the store to taste tea, said with emotion that among all the taste bud experiences in Inner Mongolia, Mongolian milk tea can best make people feel that “life is like the first time”.
As “the mysterious tea on China’s ancient Silk Road”, brick tea originated in the Taihe period of the Tang Dynasty, and there is a record in “Tang History” that “eat cheese, not tea to get sick”. For hundreds of years, tea, milk, and meat have not only become the daily necessities of people in northwest China but also exported to Mongolia, Japan, Russia, Britain, Malaysia, and other places through the ancient Silk Road.
By the 17th century, Chinese brick tea had cultivated a stable and huge consumer group in Russia and many European countries. Following the ancient Silk Road, a 14,000-kilometer-long international ancient commercial road, the “Wanli Tea Road”, which starts from China in the east and ends in Russia via Mongolia, connects Eurasia again.
According to Deng Jiugang, vice chairman of Wanli Tea Ceremony Association (China), Guihua City (the old city of Hohhot), which was at the center of the Qing Dynasty at that time, gathered hundreds of merchants. The most famous company, Dashengkui, had nearly 20,000 camels at their peak. The camel team transported tea and other commodities between the vast grasslands and deserts.
For thousands of years, the Mongolian people have never changed their way of drinking tea with a mixture of brick tea and milk. The pure white and sweet milk “encounters” the green tea, which is used for digestion and greasy relief.
“It would be better to have no meals for three days than to have no tea for one day.” In ancient times, Mongolians who were addicted to tea could exchange a piece of brick tea for a sheep or a cow. “The milk tea culture of the grassland people is to drink the fragrance of tea, milk, and hearty friendship.” Jiao Yongxing, a researcher at the Inner Mongolia National Food Culture Research Institute, said that Mongolian milk tea concentrates the essence of grassland humanistic etiquette from ancient times to the present.
Today, the hospitable Mongolian family still has to offer milk tea first to the guests. It is disrespectful to have no tea or not to brew new tea, and it should be regarded as “full of tea”.
In the evening, after three cups of tea, the herdsmen played their beloved matouqin, and the singing lingered on the grassland.