Kazakh Beverages

Kazakh beverages are drinks made from fermented milk or tea with various additives.

Lastest Updated January 6, 2024
Verified by A-Z Cuisines Team
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Basic Information

Kazakh Beverages: Basic Overview

Common Ingredients

Tea, milk, yogurt, fruits

Common Preparing Methods

Brewing, blending, fermenting

Key Taste

Sour, salty, savory

Drinking Etiquette

Tea is often served half-filled in cups to guests. Refusing a drink can be seen as impolite

Culinary Festivals

Nauryz – Kazakh New Year

Influence and Fusion

Influences from Russian and Silk Road trade (e.g., tea culture, vodka). Dairy-based beverages reflect nomadic heritage.
Origin and Region

Kazakh Beverages: Origin and Region

Cuisine

Kazakhstan

Culinary Region

Central Asia

Country’s Region

Nationwide Origin
Kazakhstan Map
Ingredients and Preparation

Types of Kazakh Beverages

  • Hot Non-alcoholic

    These are served warm.

    Tea is a key drink in the country, which is sometime mixed with milk or cream.

  • Cold Non-alcoholic

    They are usually dairy-based and served cold.
  • Fermented Alcoholic

    Wine production in Kazakhstan dates back to the 7th century.

    Modern Kazakh wines are gaining global attention for their quality.

Ingredients and Preparation

Kazakh Beverages: Signature Dishes and Beverages

  • Most Popular Beverages

    They are widely consumed across Kazakhstan and play an important role in locals’ daily lives and social gatherings.
  • National Beverage

    It represents Kazakhstan’s nomadic legacy is associated with national identity.
  • Traditional Beverages

    They have historical and traditional importance in the country.

    They often appear during cultural events and festivals.

  • Street Beverages

    They are popular options for quick refreshment and are sold at street stalls or markets.

Kazakh beverages are drinks that people in Kazakhstan enjoy alone or paired with main dishes, snacks, and desserts in local cuisine.

Many traditional Kazakh drinks are made from fermented dairy products, so they are mainly sour or savory in flavor. These drinks are typically non-alcoholic and are enjoyed cold.

Nevertheless, there are also a few drinks that deviate from those norms in Kazakhstan. You can find a few fruit-based and alcoholic beverages here.

Kazakh drinks are usually gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly but not necessarily suitable for vegans.

Continue reading to learn more fascinating facts about drinks in Kazakhstan, I will start with the country’s national drink and beverage development.

Next, you can discover how to serve traditional Kazakh beverages at meals, what drinking customs to follow, and some food pairing options with these refreshments.

Scroll down to explore everything about Kazakh beverages! While reading, make sure to use the filter or click on the delights for more insights.

7 Most Popular Kazakh Beverages with Filters

#1 in Kazakhstan Flag of Kazakhstan

Tea in Central Asia

Tea in Central Asia
  • National
  • Traditional

Tea in Central Asia is a respected hospitality symbol, traditionally served in a “piala,” with regionally varied preferences in types.

Country’s Region: Unspecified

Main Ingredients:

Tea leaves

Prepare Method: Steeping

Mealtime: Anytime

#2 in Kazakhstan Flag of Kazakhstan

Vodka

Vodka
  • Traditional

Vodka is a clear distilled spirit, primarily made from water and ethanol, with origins in Russia, Sweden, and Poland.

Country’s Region: Unspecified

Main Ingredients:

Cereal grains, potatoes, sugarcane, honey, fruits, etc.

Prepare Method: Distilling

Mealtime: Anytime

#3 in Kazakhstan Flag of Kazakhstan

Kumis

Kumis
  • National
  • Traditional

Kumis is a fermented beverage made from mare milk in Mongolia and Central Asia.

Country’s Region: Unspecified

Main Ingredients:

Mare milk or donkey milk

Prepare Method: Fermenting

Mealtime: Anytime

#4 in Kazakhstan Flag of Kazakhstan

Ayran

Ayran
  • National
  • Street Drink
  • Traditional

Ayran is a Turkish cold drink made from yogurt, water, and salt.

Country’s Region: Nationwide Origin

Main Ingredients:

Yogurt, water, and salt

Prepare Method: Blending

Mealtime: Anytime

#5 in Kazakhstan Flag of Kazakhstan

Chal

Chal
  • National
  • Traditional

Chal is a Central Asian beverage made by fermenting camel milk.

Country’s Region: Nationwide Origin

Main Ingredients:

Camel milk

Prepare Method: Fermenting

Mealtime: Anytime

#6 in Kazakhstan Flag of Kazakhstan

Kompot

Kompot
  • Traditional

Kompot is a popular European drink made by simmering fruits in sweetened water.

Country’s Region: Unspecified

Main Ingredients:

Various fruits (fresh, dried, or mixed), water, sugar, or raisins.

Prepare Method: Simmering

Mealtime: Anytime

#7 in Kazakhstan Flag of Kazakhstan

Kazakh Wine

Kazakh Wine
  • Traditional

Kazakh wine refers to wine in Kazakhstan.

Country’s Region: Almaty Region

Main Ingredients:

More than 40 grape varieties, especially saperavi and rkatsiteli

Prepare Method: Fermenting

Mealtime: Anytime

Kazakh Beverage Images

What Is Kazakh National Drink?

Chal4
Chal being poured into individual cups to serve with fried dough snacks.

While Kazakhstan doesn’t have an officially recognized national drink, many people consider kumis (known locally as qymyz) worthy of this status.

Kumis is a fermented dairy beverage made from mare milk or donkey milk (in the traditional version), or cow milk (in many modern products).

Often consumed cold, kumis has a uniquely tangy flavor mixed with pungent notes and a low alcohol content ranging from 0.7% to 2.5%.

Kumis dates back to the 5th century and represents Kazakhstan’s nomadic legacy, a major factor that shapes the country’s beverage scene.

What Factors Shape the Development of Beverages in Kazakhstan?

Kumis3
Kumis served with many traditional dishes on a holiday table in Kazakhstan.

The 4 following factors play an important role in the evolution of Kazakh drinks.

Nomadic Heritage

The nomadic lifestyle of Kazakh ancestors was heavily reliant on animal products, making dairy beverages vital in the country.

Many popular Kazakh drinks are prepared from fermented milk, such as kumis, ayran, chalap, and chal (locally known as shubat).

These drinks are nutritious and have a long shelf life, which was historically essential for nomadic people.

Kazakh drinks of nomadic origin also represent the distinctness of local beverages by using ingredients not widely used elsewhere, such as mare milk (in kumis) or camel milk (in chal).

Tea Culture

Tea is a central element of Kazakh hospitality and social life, often served to guests and during meals.

Kazakhstan’s tea culture reflects the fusion of neighboring cuisines. Tea came to the country from China via the Silk Road trade, but the local tea-drinking practice is highly similar to the Russian way.

In Kazakhstan, people typically consume strong black tea mixed with milk or cream, with sweets or traditional pastries on the side.

To show respect for guests, the host only pours a small amount of tea into their cups and refills when necessary so that the tea is always hot.

Wine Making Tradition

Wine was produced in Kazakhstan as early as the 7th century, but this tradition was eventually discontinued due to many reasons.

After a period of revival during the Soviet era, Kazakh wine is now attracting global attention with high-quality vintages.

Russian Influence

Russian cuisine has introduced new beverage types to Kazakhstan, such as kompot and vodka. Russia is also a large market for certain Kazakh drinks, such as wine.

Next, let’s explore how Kazakhs serve traditional beverages in festive settings.

How Are Traditional Beverages Served in a Typical Kazakh Meal?

Kumis and Snacks
A small meal of tea, kumis, and snacks often takes place before a large feast.
  • Kazakhs are famously hospitable and often entertain guests with delicious dishes and drinks. Here are a few interesting things about how they serve their traditional beverages.
  • Traditional meals often take place on a dastarkhan (low table) or on the ground.
  • Locals often precede the meal with a friendly conversation, during which drinks and snacks are served.
  • Dairy-based drinks, such as kumis or chal, are offered first and followed by black tea.
  • Kazakhs usually serve tea in ornate teapots and cups, especially a piyāla/ piala (ceramic drinking bowl).
  • Besides milk, the tea can be flavored with sugar, lemon juice, melted butter, or spices.
  • Common snacks are dried fruits, bauyrsaq (boortsog), kashk (dried yogurt), or samsa.
  • Tea can be served throughout the meal with the main dishes. Sometimes, locals conclude the meal with extra servings of tea or kumis.

Although most traditional drinks in Kazakh cuisine don’t contain alcohol, alcoholic beverages still have a large presence in the country. Read on to discover local customs with both types of drinks.

What Are the Drinking Customs in Kazakhstan?

Kumis Milk
Refusing a drink is almost a taboo in Kazakhstan.

Below is a breakdown of how people in Kazakhstan enjoy both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

Consumption of Vodka

Despite Islamic restrictions on alcohol consumption, vodka is fairly popular in Kazakhstan. Drinking vodka is a communal activity that helps strengthen friendships and build trust.

Toasting

Toasting is an important part of the drinking culture in Kazakhstan. A toastmaster, or “tamada,” is designated to lead toasts during a gathering. Toasts can be lengthy and elaborate and touch on many themes.

No Beverage Refusal

Offering a drink is a sign of hospitality and respect, and refusing it can be seen as impolite, although non-drinkers are generally offered non-alcoholic alternatives.

Even if guests can’t stand drinks that have an acquired taste, such as kumis or chal, they should still enjoy a small sip to please the host.

Tea Culture

In Kazakhstan, a cup of tea is often only half filled. Pouring more tea than that can be interpreted as the host wanting the guest to leave early.

Turn your cup upside-down when you don’t want more tea.

Check out the food pairing options to learn more about other aspects of beverages in Kazakhstan.

What Foods Are Paired with Kazakh Beverages?

In Kazakhstan, drinks go well with a diverse range of food, making them an important part of the country’s culture. Here are some of the popular combos to have with drinks:

Kumis

Kumis

Kazakh sausages (like kazy) are options that go well with the tart flavor of kumis. Furthermore, bread and pastries are two popular choices to have with kumis.

Tea

Tea

Tea is a big part of Kazakh drinking culture, with the locals usually serving them with dried fruits, sweetened nuts, and confectioneries such as zhent and baursak.

Chal

Chal (Shubat)

In Kazakhstan, shubat’s creaminess is prized for going with roasted lamb, pilaf, and savory pastries.

Ayran

Ayran

Ayran is a perfect choice for easing the heat of Kazakh dishes like rice specialties, and grilled or stewed vegetables.

Next, explore amazing information relating to refreshments in Kazakhstan through some inquiries from readers.

FAQs

Black tea is now considered the most widespread drink in Kazakhstan, though dairy beverages, such as kumis and chal, had this status in the past.

Kazakhs usually drink tea with a piyāla, a small, beautifully decorated ceramic bowl. Western-style teacups are less popular.

Yes, coffee is available in Kazakhstan and is usually enjoyed with milk. While Kazakhs are consuming more and more coffee, this beverage is still less popular than other traditional choices.

By law, only people 21 years old or above can purchase alcohol in Kazakhstan.

Yes, beer is a common alcoholic drink for celebrations and social gatherings in Kazakhstan. A significant proportion of beer sold in the country comes from Russia.

Adam Sam

Adam Sam

Senior Food and Drink Editor

Expertise

Food Writer & Recipe Developer, Recipe Tester, Bartender, Cooking-video Maker, Editor In Chief

Education

  • University of Gastronomic Sciences – Pollenzo (Italy) (MA Food Culture, Communication & Marketing)
  • Johnson & Wales University (US) (Baking and Pastry Arts)
  • Professional Bartender at HNAAu School (Vietnam, International Joint Training Program)

Adam Sam, an experienced food writer and recipe developer, is passionate about blending diverse culinary traditions, national dishes, and innovative beverages, showcasing his proficiency in both traditional and modern recipe testing.

As the Editor-in-Chief, he elevates culinary content from street food to fine dining, focusing on Western cuisine and types of drinks at azcuisines.com, and is professional in creating engaging cooking videos that simplify complex dishes and ingredients.

His passion for food is evident in his writing, where he uniquely merges various cultures, traditions, and contemporary trends, skillfully combining classic recipes with modern cooking methods.

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