Kalmyk tea, jomba or ustya tsya is cooked by adding milk, butter, salt, and nutmeg powder to water. In fact, there is more than one way of cooking this tea. It is possible to mix it with fried flour (this tea is called khuursn tsya), mutton (makhta tsya), and finely chopped sheep fat (shuurgta tsya). Such nutritious tea, which resembles soup, not only quenches thirst but also gives extra energy and warmth in the cold. Another popular drink is chigyan, which can be made from the milk of a mare (gunya chigyan), a camel (temyanya chigyan) or a cow (ukrya chigyan). As it is produced from a liquid starter culture and contains more sugar, mare’s milk chigyan, also known in Central Asia as kumis, has a higher alcohol content compared with those made from cow’s or camel’s milk. Targ, another fermented milk drink, is prepared on a slow fire for several hours. It has thick texture and is sour-ish by taste. The traditional alcoholic drink yark is made from sheep’s milk. Milk vodka can be distilled four times which increases its alcohol content. In the first distillation it is called yark, in the second – arz, in the third – khorz and finally in the fourth – borz.

Anatoliy Safinov, Vodka

When Anatoliy was young his mother used to make milk vodka. First, milk was left to turn sour in order to make chigyan. Then the chigyan was poured into a pot. The pot was covered with a lid that had a hole through which a pipe was inserted into the pot. Then the lid was smeared with mud and the pipe was directed into another pot. A stick was prepared, one end of which was wrapped with cotton. This stick was used to taste the vodka. When the chigyan boiled, the vodka dripped through the pipe into the other pot. What remained in the pot was called borz.


Antonina Boskhandjieva, About Jomba


Maria Kamandzhaeva, Tea Ceremony


Maya Karueva, Kalmyk Tea


Nadvid Ubushiev, Legends About Alcohol


Sofya Olzeeva, Kalmyk Tea


Zurgada Antonova, About Milk Vodka