Mongolian Tea (Suutei tsai) is an important part of Mongolian culture and is apparently quite different to any other tea. Served in little bowls with most meals, it is made with green tea (often of poor quality), yak milk or butter and salt! This sounds a little strange but given the chance I would try it.
Why Mongolian tea? Well, I have been recently watching “Marco Polo” on Netflix. It was recommended to me by a friend and, in my opinion, worth taking a look. The series is based on the book “The Travels of Marco Polo” which was written by the famous Italian adventurer and follows his journey (1271-1295) as a merchant in Asia.
Most people know Marco Polo as an explorer and traveller. He rode with his father and uncle along the, often, dangerous trade routes between Russia and Europe. Later these roads became known by such names as the Tea Trail and the Silk Road.
In the first series of “Marco Polo” our hero passes through Mongolia and meets the great leader, Kublai Kahn. It is set in a time of Mongolian dominance in Asia and expansion into China. We see lots of exciting martial arts fights with some rather flamboyant camera shots and costumes, and maybe for some viewers, a little too much nudity and violence.
Mongolia was, and still is, a country of nomads and today its human population is outnumbered by horses. Traditionally, the country’s tough little horses were used for riding and for transporting goods such as tea. The breed has changed very little since the time of Kublai Kahn.
Even today the horse is still important to the nomadic people of Mongolia: whilst riding around the land and living in their ger (yurt or tent) they use horse’s milk, meat and hair. Horse dung can even be burnt as campfire fuel.
I admire such people who are self sufficient and live off the land. Perhaps a reason to visit “the land of blue sky” with its beautiful landscape and slow pace. An escape from our modern rat race.
An armchair tourist
As much as I love the idea of travelling, I am a bit of an “armchair tourist”: someone who has lots of ideas of where to go but can’t actually decide which one is best. Today Toscana, tomorrow Sri Lanka! Some people prefer to stay at home and there are people who have very “itchy feet” (Fernweh) and need to get away.