Ugyen was away for a two-week course. Ludup went with her. Deki, Nono and Angay were also away. I was left alone. Alone, but not lonely. One of the things I did was make tea again. The drink.
Tea in Bhutan is made the Indian way, unless it is made the Tibetan way with salt and butter. That means the tea comes with sugar (usually lots) and milk. The milk comes as a white powder with sweetener included. I am not sure that it is milk. It makes the tea white.
It must be the only thing that does not have chili in it.
There is no tea-pot in the house. The tea is made in a big pot, and then transferred to a flask. The leaves get strained out.
Now most of this goes against all the tea-making tradition I was brought up with. So I had to relearn. Not that it was difficult.
I often watched Ugyen making the "tea". She uses her hand to measure things out, then tastes to check. The tea comes out quite pale, very sweet and tasting little of tea. But nice all the same. Like her. Though she is not so pale. She does taste little of tea, and is very sweet!
Luckily, Skye Gyngell, of the Guardian, had an article about cardamom, and one of the recipes was for chai. Perfect! The quantities were given in spoonfuls. I was in my element. Skye Gyngell's recipe for chai. His recipe uses fresh milk.
When Ugyen returned, I decided to surprise her the first morning by making the tea. When she came in to the kitchen and found me boiling the water and tea before adding the milk, she was appalled.
"Take the pot to the kettle, not the kettle to the pot," I tried to cry.
"Don't stew the tea," I pleaded.
"One for each person, and one for the pot."
All to no avail. I was pushed out of the kitchen and Ugyen started shoveling in the dairy whitener.
"We make tea the Indian way," she muttered.
As if tea came from India!
Where did it come from?
This article, India's Passion for Tea, has another story about the meeting of two teas. Plus some interesting facts about the clay pots that tea used to be served in. They have been replaced by disposable plastic cups. And boy, do they make a mess of the ground. You cannot find rubbish bins in India. No need for a bin, just toss it on the ground.
Have a nice cuppa.