24 September (Sunday): Tea, not tea

Chencho and Chimi Dorji came over with their family for tea: we had invited them for dinner but then Chencho said, kindly, “If dinner is too hard, you could just have us over for tea,” and I leapt at that offer.

Then I realized I didn’t know how to make Bhutanese tea.

Thank goodness for the JC Store. I went up and said to Tenzing, “We have people coming to tea but I don’t know how to make Bhutanese tea.” “No problem,” said Tenzing. “Here is instant suja tea—just like instant coffee.” (I was gobsmacked by this collision of old and new—and then there was my family’s horror when I pulled out the bag of instant suja back at home.)

“But what if they want sweet milk tea?” I asked. “One of my students said she was in Switzerland and all she could get were these little packets, by which I think she meant tea bags, and she said, ‘A person cannot make Bhutanese tea with those!’” But that’s all I have!

“Ah,” said Tenzing, “if you boil those bags and add milk, it gives you stomach pain. Instead, you add loose leaf tea to boiling water, wait for the water to grow dark, filter out the tea leaves, put the tea water back in the pot with some sugar and milk, and bring it back to a boil.”
“Do I need powdered milk?”
“No, it’s ok to use packet milk too.”
I accept that answer because I don’t want to buy a bunch of powdered milk, but I am sure my student would not agree.

When Chencho and Chimi Dorji arrive with Kinley (6 years old) and his little two-year-old sister (who has the same first name, I think, but a different “home” name—like my nickname, Betsy) and their babysitter Ugyen (the first female Ugyen we’ve met), I tell them I have the makings for tea, but I’m nervous about making it. “That’s ok!” says Chimi Dorji. “If you want to learn, she (Ugyen) can show you, or I could. But we can just have water, too.”

Some other time, I will learn to make tea.

Jeremy baked pumpkin chocolate chip cake, as promised—only to discover that Chimi Dorji does not like pumpkin! He did like bread dipped in olive oil and salt, however.

Chencho and Chimi Dorji are quite funny about Blessed Rainy Day. Chimi Dorji decided that since the spring our water comes from is open to the air and surrounded by trees, it will have been receiving blessings and flowers probably fell into the spring at some point, so taking a normal shower will do. Evidently the 3:30 a.m. time was the time we were all supposed to get up a shower. Chimi Dorji thought normal waking time was still sufficiently blessed. Chencho and the children didn’t shower until evening, though. “I’m not sure there was any blessing left!”