Kumis is also called kumiss, koumiss, kymys or kymyz, (from Turkic kımız , also called airag or chigee in Mongolian) is a fermented drink traditionally made from the milk of horses. It remains important to the people of the Central Asian steppes, including the Bashkirs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Mongols, and Yakuts. The word kumis is thought to derive from the name of the Turkic Kumyk people. The capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek, is named after the paddle used to churn the fermenting milk, showing the importance of the drink in the national culture.
Already Herodot discribed Kumis in a 5th centuries report about the Scythians.
Kumis is said to be beneficial for a range of chronic diseases, including tuberculosis, bronchitis, catarrh, and anemia.
Kumis is a kind of alcoholic drink. Technically, it is closer by definition to wine than to beer because the fermentation occurs directly from sugars, as in wine (usually from fruit), as opposed to from starches (usually from grain) that had been first worted to be converted to sugars, as in beer. But in terms of experience and traditional manner of consumption it is much more comparable to beer. It is even milder in alcoholic content than beer and is usually consumed cold. It may even arguably be thought of as the region’s beer equivalent.
Kumis is very light in body compared to most dairy drinks. It has a unique, slightly sour flavor with a bite from the mild alcoholic content. The exact flavor is greatly variable between different brewers.
I tastes strange a bit sour a bit salty. I did not like it very much. But other people of our group enjoyed it.
As indicated above, kumis is usually served cold or chilled. Traditionally it is sipped out of small, handle-less, bowl-shaped cups or saucers, called pialkas. The serving of it is an essential part of Kyrgyz hospitality on the jailoo or high pasture, where they keep their herds of animals (horse, cattle, and sheep) during the summer phase of transhumance.
The Kyrgyz men wear a very typical felt hat, know also as Kalpak. They are made of wool. The high hats with their white color and black ornaments are very remarkable. It can be seen alll over Central Asia. When you see a man wearing this kind of hat, then you know: he is a Kyrgyz man!
Felt is a non-woven cloth that is produced by matting, condensing and pressing fibers. The fibers form the structure of the fabric. Some types of felt are used to cover the yurts. Felt is said to be the oldest form of fabric known to humankind.