What is the white drink Mongolians drink?

Answered by Michael Wilson

Airag, also known as kumis, is a traditional Mongolian beverage that holds great cultural significance in the country. It is commonly referred to as the “white drink” due to its milky appearance. Airag is made through the fermentation of mare’s milk, which gives it a unique flavor and effervescent quality.

The process of making airag begins by collecting fresh mare’s milk, which is known for its high sugar content. The milk is then left to ferment in large leather containers called khurs. During the fermentation process, naturally occurring yeasts and bacteria convert the sugars in the milk into alcohol and carbon dioxide. This fermentation can take anywhere from a few hours to several days, depending on the desired taste and consistency.

Once the fermentation is complete, the resulting airag is a slightly sour and fizzy beverage, typically low in alcohol content. It has a distinct tangy flavor with hints of sweetness. The taste may vary depending on the specific region and the diet of the horses, as it can be influenced by the plants they graze on.

In Mongolia, airag is deeply rooted in nomadic traditions and has been consumed for centuries. It holds a symbolic value as a source of nutrition and hydration for the nomadic herders who rely on horses for transportation and sustenance. It is often consumed during special occasions and celebrations, such as Naadam, the traditional Mongolian festival.

When I had the opportunity to try airag during my visit to Mongolia, I was initially intrigued by its cultural significance. The taste was unlike anything I had experienced before, with a tartness that was balanced by a subtle sweetness. The effervescence added a refreshing element to the drink, making it enjoyable to sip on a hot summer day.

It is worth noting that airag may not be to everyone’s taste, especially for those who are not accustomed to fermented beverages or sour flavors. However, for those willing to explore the unique flavors of Mongolian cuisine, airag offers an authentic and distinct drinking experience.

Airag, or kumis, is the traditional white drink that Mongolians consume. It is made by fermenting mare’s milk and holds great cultural significance in the country. Its tangy flavor, effervescence, and symbolic value make it a beloved beverage among the Mongolian people.