Shoton Festival: Celebrating traditional Tibetan yoghurt in Lhasa
Now to Lhasa where celebrations of this year's Shoton Festival, literally the "yoghurt banquet festival", are underway. Besides the myriad activities that take place during the festival, the highlight is, of course, eating yoghurt. CGTN's Zheng Yibing explores how Tibetan yak milk yoghurt is made and why so many are eager to have a taste.
BASANGCIREN TIBETAN HERDSMAN "Every morning I get up at 6:30 and milk the yaks. Then, I boil the milk and prepare it for making yoghurt."
Yak milk is the only ingredient used to make traditional Tibetan yoghurt. The milk is boiled, then cooled and fermented. A process that takes time, patience and skill.
BASANGZHUOGA HERDSWOMAN "Making yoghurt has no secrets. It's just important to keep an appropriate temperature. This way, the yoghurt will have the best taste. We never add anything else."
In just five hours, the yak milk transforms into a thick, creamy yoghurt that's ready to serve.
ZHENG YIBING LHASA "The family will send the home-made yoghurt to the city of Lhasa and allow more people to enjoy the local treat during the Shoton Festival."
Although yak milk yoghurt can be mass-produced, many still insist on the traditional way. Like one woman we spoke with, who runs a yoghurt shop in Lhasa. To attract younger customers, she adds different flavorings to her yoghurt.
GESANG YOGHURT SHOP OWNER "We add some other ingredients, like ice cream, honey and rose petals. We won't change the yoghurt's original taste, but merely add some flavoring to make it more appealing."
During the Shoton Festival, locals will eat yoghurt anywhere. In shops, at home, or with family and friends in parks.
To find out why so many people love yak milk yoghurt, I tried some in Lhasa's Norbulingka park.
ZHENG YIBING LHASA "At first, the yoghurt is quite sour, but gradually the taste becomes rich and fragrant. One bite provides an understanding as to why the locals love this yoghurt enough to name a festival after it."
And it also attracts tourists.
TRAVELER WOMAN "It's sweet. I like it in sugar."
TRAVELER MAN "I would have one more."
Yoghurt is celebrated extensively during the 7-day festival, another link between past, present and future for the Tibetan people. Zheng Yibing, CGTN, in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region.