Something to drink?

Whether invited into a humble hut or a plush palace, one will nearly always be offered something to drink. The most humble and beautiful drink the world over is a simple glass of water.


Water is vital for all known forms of life.

Young girl drinking bottled water in Pakistan
Young girl drinking bottled water in Pakistan | CC-PD

Water covers 71% of the Earth’s surface, most water is saline. Only 2.5% of the Earth’s water is freshwater, and 98.8% of that water is in ice and groundwater.

Over large parts of the world, humans have inadequate access to potable water and use sources contaminated with disease vectors, pathogens or unacceptable levels of toxins or suspended solids. Water has always been an important and life-sustaining drink to humans and is essential to the survival of most other organisms.

One organisation working to improve the availability of safe drinking water in some the world’s poorest countries is WaterAid International. Operating in 26 countries, WaterAid is working to make lasting improvements to peoples’ quality of life by providing long-term sustainable access to clean water in countries such as Nepal, Tanzania, Ghana and India. It also works to educate people about sanitation and hygiene.

© Buddhist pictogrammeBuddhist Way

Masala Chai

Masala Chai © uteart | CC-BY
Masala Chai
© uteart | CC-BY

Tea is a common drink in almost all Buddhist cultures. The tea served in typical South Asian households is called ‘chai’. What many people tend to think of as ‘chai’ is in fact ‘masala chai’, a spicy tea with no fixed recipe that is drunk in hot or cold weather.


• Tea
Usually a strong black tea such as Assam is used so that the various spices and sweeteners do not overpower it.

• Sweeteners
A surprisingly large quantity of sugar, molasses, honey or other sweetener maybe required to bring out the flavour of the spices. In the Tibetan version of this tea, salt is substituted for sweeteners.

• Milk
Cow, yak, goat or sheep milk is added to the tea.

• Spices
Traditionally, Masala Chai is a bracing, strongly spiced beverage brewed with so-called ‘warm’ spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, star anise, white pepper and cloves.

The secret to making good tea is to leave the tea leaves (or tea dust) in water that has come to a boil long enough to bring out the flavour of the tea but to remove them before the bitter tannins are released. Many people boil the water with the sugar and spices before adding the tea. Milk is the last ingredient added since it should not come to a boil. After the mixture has simmered for a few minutes, it is strained and served hot.