Nun chai, or Gur-gur chai as it is known across the Zojila, is a pinkish salted tea made by boiling tea, with soda of baking soda and water in a samovar. Once the tea has been boiled down to a concentrate, salt and more water are added to the samovar. It has a pungent salty taste, which is incredibly heating and lingers in the throat for a while. Gur-gur chai is largely the same, except that the tea is churned with a dasher, in salt and refined yak butter, in a cylindrical wooden churn known as a gur-gur. Gur-gur chai is however, much more popular in its native provinces than its counterpart, which often loses out to the cardamom and almond dashed Kahwa.
The Ladakhis regard gur-gur chai as one of the best antidotes to dehydration and cold. Every Ladakhi kitchen has a gur-gur (quiver shaped churn for the tea) of varying vintage, from garish plastic ones to exquisitely carved and brass fitted wooden ones. The tea is had most often with Tsampa (made of roasted and ground barley). Unlike nun chai, gur-gur chai is made in pans or cauldrons.
Both brews are drunk in great quantities at all formal occasions. Conossieurs claim that the best gur-gur chai made at the Hemis Gompa has just the right amount of salt to give it a perfect tang. And journeymen write pious odes: Feed me / Gur-gur-chaa/ Knead me/ In beads of rosaries/ To half hum the prayers.