Tan is a traditional Armenian drink made from a local yogurt called matsun. It has a slightly sour, salty taste. It has been a part of Armenian culture for centuries and is especially popular during the summer months. Tan originates from the mountainous regions of Armenia, where it was prepared hundreds of years ago. The specific recipe was carefully passed down from generation to generation and was often a closely guarded secret in villages.
Ingredients and preparation of tan
Tan is usually prepared by adding sparkling mineral water to matsun yogurt in a 1:1 ratio. It should be liquid, not too thick. It is slightly salted and sometimes the drink is cooled with ice cubes. It can also be enhanced by adding fresh mint leaves, dill, or small cucumber cubes. Salt is essential in the drink. Its replenishment is necessary during the hot summer months.
Tan is often served with Armenian dishes. The probiotics in tan help digestion, as some local dishes are fatty. Armenians also believe that tan helps to cure a hangover faster. However, tan is primarily a symbol of Armenian hospitality.
Difference between tan and ayran drinks
Armenian tan is very similar to other salty yogurt drinks, like Turkish ayran. Despite the similarities, there are differences between them. Tan is prepared in a 1:1 ratio, making it more liquid. Turkish ayran is generally frothier and may have a thicker consistency. It’s often vigorously stirred to incorporate air, resulting in a beautifully thick foam cap on top. Tan is also available flavored with herbs or cucumber, while I haven’t encountered flavored ayran in Turkey.
Packaged tan can be found in all supermarkets, and there’s almost always a version with sparkling water, still water, cucumber, mint or dill.
If you have the opportunity, also taste freshly prepared tan in a restaurant. For example, in the Lavash restaurant in Yerevan, a 0.3l glass of homemade tan costs 400 AMD, which is approximately 1 EUR.