View Full Version : I have a question about Tongba...

02-24-2006, 10:25 AM
OK, so I realize this might be more suited for a beer forum somewhere, but let's face it. Meadmakers seem more of a pioneering spirit than your average homebrewer. So I though I d throw this out at the hive - has anyone out there ever made Tongba? If so how did you go about it?

To make a long story relatively short, I was in Sikkim a few years ago, and had a great cold weather alcoholic drink - Tongba. It is served in a miniature cask (or really big mug), and by served I mean it is a mug full of fermented millet. There is a straw that goes to the bottom and you are given a hot pitcher of water that you pour in. After a minute you can start drinking. It has a very filling beer flavor, but nice and warm (in a good way). When you finish you mug you just pour in more water. I did this maybe 3-4 times in the same mug of millet and somehow the flavor and alcohol content did not seem to diminish. You get the occasional grain of millet as you drink, but for the most part it was smooth drinkiní.

Now Iíd like to make it at home. Iíve done the usual internet searches and found nothing. Anyone ever tried to make this? Iíd be willing to experiment too, just not sure how they fermented the whole grain. Maybe have the millet in a minimal amount of water, do a short boil and pitch the yeast?

02-24-2006, 10:49 AM
A friend of mine once asked me about the same thing (saw it on a Travel Channel show or something). He called it Chang, which allowed me to find this recipe online:

"Boil about 2 kg (about 4.5 lb) of millet for several hours.
Add yeast and lemon juice and allow it to ferment.
Allow it to stand for several weeks.
Strain the fermenting fluid through a cloth and extort to remove the taste of yeast."

The site also mentioned an issue of Zymergy that had it. If you make it, post the results as it sound interesting.


02-24-2006, 11:54 AM
Thanks, I'll definitely give it a try.

02-27-2006, 10:41 AM
I've got a couple books at home that should have Chang, Tongba or other millet beer recipes. I'll see what I can find when I get home.

02-27-2006, 10:15 PM
Below are 2 folk recipes for Chaang/Tongba. Perhaps this will offer at least a little more insight into this folk beverage if not a decisive recipe by modern standards. From Ferment & Human Nutrition by Bill Mollison (1993), p. 208:

Chaang (millet beer), Nepal
Boil 2kg (4.5 lbs) millet in 5-10 litres (10.5-21 pints) water for 2-4 hours. Take care not to burn the grain, by topping up with water as it swells. The mush can be blended or ground, and water added to make a thin gruel. Yeast and lemon juice is added to the cooled gruel, and sometimes a little sugar. It can stand for some weeks and is strained before use.

Chaang or Tongba (millet beer)
Millet is thoroughly boiled, spread on a mat, and yeast culture added (koji or marcha). Line a fine-woven basket with banana leaves, spread in the millet and cover with banana leaves. Leave to ferment 3-6 days (summer-winter). The froth is allowed to run to waste. Now the mass is transferred to a jar and thoroughly sealed (air spoils the ferment) for 8-15 days. This mass is diluted 3:1 (3 of water) or more and strained to drink. Chaang can also be made from sweet potato, wheat, maize, rice or a mixture of these.

Hope that's interesting if not helpful. I'd say more research is still in order.

Good luck,

03-01-2006, 11:56 AM
Ask the hive and ye shall recieve!

Thank you! I'll try to give it a try before it gets too warm and let youknow the results.


01-25-2016, 02:30 PM
Ask the hive and ye shall recieve!

Thank you! I'll try to give it a try before it gets too warm and let youknow the results.


Just did a google search about making Tongba and found this. Took me awhile to realize I posted this originally. Figured out my old login/password. Anyway, long story short, don't hold your breath but I may make this sometime soon. :)

09-09-2016, 09:30 PM
Any luck with making the tongba?

I'm considering giving it a shot too, and even brought back some murcha (yeast patties) from my last trip to Sikkim.

I've got a fermenting crock, and am looking for some advice on the technique. Anyone actually brewed this successfully?


09-26-2017, 09:41 PM
I too am interested in making this. But, I'd like to use himalayan murcha. Any idea if it can be imported to the USA? How to find it?