Did You Know?
Tea leaves are pickled and fermented in Myanmar-called lahpet-and they are a much-loved delicacy and consumed widely.
There are thousands of cuisines in the world - each with its unique set of flavors, method of preparation, special dishes, and of course drinks. Though some of them might seem very strange to us, for the people that consume them, they are an inseparable part of their traditions and lives.
The cultures that these drinks originated from have often made the most of the things that they had - from corn to yak butter. They have imbibed them, not just with spices and flavors, but also with millions of years of history, nostalgia, and love. So, before they get obscured in history, let's take a look at some unusual and unique drinks from around the world.
The Mate from South America
Mate is a drink made by steeping the leaves of the yerba mate plant in hot water. Mate is traditionally served in hollowed-out gourds, and is drunk with a silver straw, which also acts as a sieve. Very popular in Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, and some parts of Brazil, it is bitter, and the taste resembles strong, herbal, unsweetened green tea.
Caffè D'Orzo from Italy
This is a relative of Barley tea or Boricha. It is made from roasted barley grains, but made like a coffee. Served like an espresso, it is quite popular in Italy, and enjoyed by children and those who want to avoid caffeine. The taste is described as something between barley water and coffee with an earthy flavor.
Hirezake from Japan
A drink made for those who love to take challenges - Hirezake is a hot sake with dried fins of the deadly fugu or puffer fish. It is served in select restaurants, often frequented by older men. The fins lend a very light, fishy flavor to the earthy sake.
Atole from Mexico
Atole is very popular in Mexico and its surrounding regions, and is consumed in consistency, ranging from that of a porridge to as thin as milk. It is made from maza, a kind of corn flour, water or milk, and unrefined sugar. Some people also add a bit of cinnamon, vanilla, fruit puree, or chocolate to it.
Sahlab from the Middle East
As exotic as it can get, Sahlab is a drink made by boiling salep - a flour made from orchid tubers, in water or milk. Sugar and assorted nuts may also be added, depending on the region. A comforting, creamy drink, flavored with cinnamon and sometimes coconut, it is thought to be an aphrodisiac.
Suutei Tsai from Mongolia
Suutei Tsai is basically milky tea, but the Mongolians make it unusual by adding salt to it, instead of sugar. It is widely consumed, much like coffee or tea in other countries, and there are versions that include using green tea, butter, and/or roasted millet.
Sarabba from Indonesia
Sarabba, also called serbat, comes from Sulawesi, an island in Indonesia. A warm, energizing drink, it is made by adding palm sugar to coconut milk, and flavored with strong ginger and a dusting of white peppercorns. A few versions include adding a raw egg yolk to the Sarabba.
Noon Chai from India
Noon Chai, made in the state of Kashmir in India, is a pink tinged salty tea made from a special blend of tea leaves, pistachios, and salt, with a bit of sodium bicarbonate added, to give it the famous pink color. Sometimes, it is flavored with cardamom or cinnamon, and is commonly served during winters or special occasions.
Api Morado from Bolivia
Api Morado is a breakfast drink made from purple cornflour, and flavored with cinnamon and cloves. Sliced pineapples or a few raisins are a common addition too. It is a filling, sweet drink, and is often paired with traditional pastries, such as empanadas. Api Blanco, made from a different variety of corn, is also quite popular in the region.
Aguapanela from Colombia
Served both hot or cold, Aguapanela is a popular drink throughout South America. It is made from molasses or unrefined cane sugar, by dissolving a lump of sugar in water. The hot version might have milk or lemon. It is also used as a base for many drinks, such as coffee, hot chocolate, and even fruit juices.
Unusual, unique, and steeped in traditions, these drinks are comforting to the mind and body. Try one of them, who knows, you might take a fancy to it!