Haa Valley, Bhutan
Tea is a very vital part of the social fabric of Bhutan. It is served the moment you arrive in the home, and usually with snacks. In this case the top basket is the typical cracker that you receive, even with black tea, when you arrive in your hotel. These crackers are either savory or sweet. Next is a pounded rice that is hard, crunchy, and delicious. The third bowl is a dried and somewhat smashed corn, and the bottom bowl is puffed rice.
We had to earn our keep, in this case, by making the tea. In Bhutan what you are served in this type of social occasion is butter tea.
The tea, or suucha, varies by maker, but it is usually locally foraged herbs and not caffeinated black tea. It’s brewed with water and a pinch of soda to keep the color, once the tea is ready, butter is added, from a yak or a cow, but far more common from a cow, and then salt to taste.
It taste sort of like a broth, similar to miso soup.
Milk from the cow is used to make both butter and cheese. After churning for awhile, the cream turns to butter.
Then the milk is put on the stove until it becomes cheese.
The cheese has a texture similar to a farmers cheese and has a delightful earthy taste.
Our hostess then went on to make spinach momos.
Once we earned our keep lunch was served.
It consisted of rice, the momos (boiled), hardboiled eggs that were then fried, cabbage with chilis, daikon radish with pork rind, potatoes datsi, fried momos, a wonderful slightly hot soup with spinach, and of course, the ubiquitous ema datse.
After a delicious repast we were invited to view the family altar. Since it is a private altar I was allowed to take photographs.