Traditional Kazakh Drinks
Any mention of traditional Kazakh drinks must start with black tea, the beverage of choice at every meal.
Drinking black tea in Kazakhstan is a ceremony in itself. Shortly after arriving to a home or gathering, a guest should be presented with a syi-ayak, an initial cup of tea symbolic of quenching thirst. The teacup is only partially filled as a sign of respect to the guest, indicating that the hostess stands ready to quicky refill the cup with more hot tea as soon as it has been emptied.
Many condiments may be added to black tea in Kazakhstan, with milk and sugar the most popular. In mountain villages and select other regions a special type of black tea called shirchay is drunk. This filling, delicious beverage can include salt, milk, butter, flour and even fried tail fat.
Green tea itself is rarely drunk in Kazakhstan, yet a concoction called Tashkent tea is very common. Tashkent tea is a blend of green and black tea with a slice of lemon and honey or sugar added. Although named after Uzbekistan’s capital, Tashkent tea is a popular Kazakh drink which can be ordered in almost any restaurant.
It should be noted that when you are invited to drink tea in Kazakhstan you should expect more than the tea itself. Fried baursak bread, dried fruits, nuts and sweets are always served along with the tea.
Apart from tea, traditional Kazakh drinks include many fermented dairy products. Dairy drinks in Kazakhstan include truly unique beverages such as shubat (camel’s milk)and kumys (mare’s milk), as well as katyk, kefir and ayran, all of which are made from cow’s milk.