Suutei tsai

We have talked about suutei tsai on the blog before, but never in great detail. This, gentle readers, is the detailed post about Mongolian-style suutei tsai, a.k.a. milk tea. Normally, when folks in the US hear the phrase “milk tea”, they picture bubble tea or something similar. Although you can find bubble tea in UB, it’s not traditional there at all. (Bubble tea originates from Taiwan.) So whenever we talk about milk tea on this blog, we are talking about the Mongolian version.

Left: aaruul candies, middle: toasted millet, right: milk tea in bowls (image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

To make suutei tsai, a basic recipe would be a quart of water, a quart of whole milk (get that skim milk out of here!), green (or black) tea (loose leaf, bagged, trimmed from a block, etc.), and salt to taste (a half to a full teaspoon for this amount of tea is a good starting point). Salt level preferences vary from person to person, but the more I drink it, the saltier I like it. (If the idea of drinking tea with salt freaks you out, just think of it more as a soup.) One of the key elements of making this tea is to aerate it by lifting out ladles full of the mixture and pouring it back in to the pot or pan from a height.

A common addition to milk tea is toasted millet, but I’ve also had it with toasted buckwheat. Some milk tea is fattier than others because some people add butter or sheep fat to the mixture. If you’re eating buuz with your milk tea, you could also add the extra melted fat in the dumpling to your milk tea. It’s all a matter of preference!

I couldn’t find a precise recipe for suutei tsai online because, like most traditional cuisines, it’s a recipe that comes from the heart and by feel rather than from written notes. As such, I wanted to find a video that would show the process and maybe break it down a bit farther. What I found was a very unique form of milk tea that can be found at a hotel in Darkhan, Mongolia. I was fascinated by the process, and I think you will be too! Enjoy the video from ArtGer below.

If you ever travel to Mongolia, anticipate drinking milk tea/suutei tsai at some point during your trip. You will be offered it at a number of places, but especially at someone’s home. It is traditionally served in bowls, but in restaurants, you’re more likely to be served with cups or mugs instead. I find it goes very well with traditional Mongolian dishes, and I get random cravings for it here in the States. If you don’t think you’ll ever get to Mongolia, you can still make milk tea at home, or, if you’re lazy like me, you can buy instant online. 😉

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