Nepal is a blend of nature, culture, and tradition, The country is diverse in terms of food as well.
Non- alcohalic as well as alcoholic drinks are equally popular in Nepal. A simple black tea or a tea infused with milk, tea is the Nepal’s favored drink. Alcoholic drinks like Raksi, Chhaang and Tongba are popular as well.
The best and strongest alcohols are often homemade, and Nepal has plenty to offer. Drinks in Nepal are equally important during festival and for offerings in various communities. Here’s a brief guide to some of the alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks in Nepal, you might get to drink during your travels.
Nepali tea is a hot beverage made from the leaves of tea plants grown in Nepal. They are distinctive in appearance, aroma, and taste, but are somewhat similar to tea produced in Darjeeling, perhaps because the eastern zones of Nepal have geography and topography similar to Darjeeling. Because of it’s relatively smaller production quantities, tea from Nepal is less well known than those from Darjeeling.
You can get two types of Nepali tea; orthodox and CTC (crush, tear, curl) tea.
Orthodox tea refers to the process where tea is hand- or machine-rolled. Most specialty teas like green tea, oolong tea, white tea, and hand rolled tea fall under the category of orthodox tea. In Nepal, orthodox tea is produced and processed in the mountainous regions of Nepal at an altitude ranging from 3,000 – 7,000 feet above the sea level.
Crush, tear, curl (CTC) tea is a method of processing Assam variety, which grows in the lower-altitude, warm and humid plains of Nepal, primarily in Jhapa district. It accounts for almost 95% of the domestic consumption, owing to its lower cost of production compared with orthodox tea.
Butter tea is a drink of the people in the Himalayan regions of Nepal. It is also popular among peoples of, Bhutan, Ladakh, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh of India and China.
Traditionally, it is made from tea leaves, yak butter, water, and salt, although butter made from cow’s milk is increasingly used, given its wider availability and lower cost.
Drinking butter tea is a regular part of the people of the highland. Since butter is the main ingredient, butter tea provides plenty of caloric energy and is particularly suited to high altitudes. The butter also helps prevent chapped lips.
The concentrate, produced by repeatedly boiling tea leaves, will keep for several days and is commonly used in towns. The tea is then combined with salt and butter in a special tea churn and churned vigorously before serving hot.
Raksi is a traditional home-brewed and distilled alcoholic beverage, usually made from fermented millet (Kodo in Nepali) or rice. Raksi, which can be found easily mostly in the hilly areas of Nepal is a strong alcoholic drink, and clear like vodka and bears a heady resemblance to tequila. It is made by cooking the main ingredient, millet, in a series of distillations (pani in Nepali term). Ek pani, or the first distillation of the liquor, is the strongest and three pani or the third distillation is the best. Nepali Raksi was also ranked 41st among the World’s 50 most delicious drink in CNN’s list. It was described as, “Made from millet or rice, Raksi is strong on the nose and sends a burning sensation straight down your throat that resolves itself into a surprisingly smooth, velvety sensation. Nepalese drink this home brew to celebrate festivals, though we think that the prized drink itself is the reason to celebrate.”
Raksi is also popularly known as Ayla in the Newar Communities.
Chhaang is often called Nepali beer. It is a fermented rice beverage, similar to the appearance and taste of Japanese Sake. Chhaang is also made with barley, corn or millets.
Fermented rice or other grains are boiled and cooled before yeast is added. It is similar to another Nepali alcoholic drink called raksi, but chhaang is usually cloudy while raksi is clear. It’s slightly fizzy, usually comes with some remains of rice or grains and is both sweet and tart in taste. It’s not incredibly alcoholic, but it’s difficult to determine exactly how much, but it can leave you feeling a little buzzed.
Tongba harder to find but perhaps the most pleasant drink of all is a home-brew liquor called tongba. It is made of millet fermented for more than six months. There is a unique and interesting way to serve a tongba. The fermented millet is put in a wooden container or jug, and boiled water is poured into the top. It is then left to soak the flavor of millet for a while and it is ready to drink. A straw with a blind end pierced on the side to act as a filter is inserted into the container to suck out the warm drink from the millet grains.