Now that the days have become colder my family's intake of hot beverages, never skimpy to start with, has steady increased. My sister ( who I will call Tshomin in this blog) often makes a pot of sweet brewed tea ( or Nga ja) for everyone in the afternoon. Here is a step by step explanation of how she does it. Tshomin repeatedly told me while I photographed her making tea that this is not the way many other Bhutanese would choose to make the tea. They would prefer it less strong, more milky and far sweeter. That warning aside, I think one of the pleasure of brewing your own pot of tea is that you can modify it to your liking. So here step by step is how Tshomin makes her afternoon tea.
She adds gently smashed ( more smushed then really smashed) cinnamon bark and cardamon to a pot of cold water .
She add loose black tea to the pot. This is her first modification. Many Bhutanese would add powdered ( and sweetened) milk ( the Indian brand everyone uses is called " Everyday") to the pot at this point, since they want their tea sweet and milky. Tshomin adds more tea and she adds it earlier because she likes her tea darker and stronger.
Once the tea has had a chance to steep , Tshomin will add the powder milk. She tells me that the milk powder wouldn't mix properly if she just spoons it into the pot, so she uses a cup to help her mix it in. She adds several spoonfuls of the powder to a cup.
Once the tea has started to boil, my sister uses a ladle to pour some of the hot brewing tea into the cup full of mild powder
She mixes the the tea water and powder milk with a spoon.
She pour the mixture back into the pot of tea and uses the ladle to mix it in.
She uses the cup and the ladle to pour the still mixing tea back and forth several times to get a good consistency.
She adds just the tiny-est amount of sugar, just a pinch. Here again she differs from most other Bhutanese who will add several heaped spoonfuls of sugar to their pots of tea.
Now the tea is ready to serve. Tshomin uses a sieve to make sure none of the tea or the cardamon and cinnamon land up in any one's cup.