Tibetan Butter Tea

The first time I tried Tibetan Butter Tea was a bit of a shock to say the least. I love it now, but it is an aquired taste for sure! I was attending a very solemn puja in Nepal at Kopan Monastery in 1995. I was expecting normal sweet tea to be in my cup. As I took my first sip, I noticed that several small monks sitting in front of me were watching me and my friends with an expectant look on their cute and curious faces.

Tibetan Butter Tea Recipes Pictures, Tibetan food, Tibetan people

I later found out that this was a fun pastime for them to watch the look of shock and sometimes disgust on the faces of the strange foreigners the first time they tasted traditional Tibetan butter tea!

It is a thick salty brew and can taste a bit rancid depending on how old the butter is. Now, many cups later, I can report with delight that there is nothing more delicious to dunk your bread into on a cold winter morning. Yum...

Tibetan Butter Tea Recipe


• Water • Plain black tea (in bags or loose) • 1/4 teaspoon salt • 2 tablespoons butter • 1/2 cup milk or 1 teaspoon milk powder


One churn, blender, or large drink container with a tight lid.

The Old Way of Preparing Butter Tea

In Tibet, the process of making Tibetan butter tea takes a long time and is pretty complicated. People use a special black tea that comes from an area called Pemagul in Tibet. The tea comes in bricks of different shapes, and we crumble off some tea and boil it for many hours. We save the liquid from the boiling and then whenever we want to make tea, we add some of that liquid, called chaku, to our boiling water. For the butter and milk, Tibetans used to, and still do, use yak butter and yak milk.

Preparing the Tea

Lucky for us, it is much easier to make 'po cha' outside of Tibet. You can use any kind of milk you want, though I think the full fat milk is the best, and sometimes I use Half and Half, which is half cream and half milk. Most Tibetan people who live outside of Tibet use Lipton tea, or some kind of plain black tea.

This po cha recipe is for four people, more or less.

• First boil five to six cups of water, then turn down the fire.

• Put two bags of tea or one heaping tablespoon of loose tea in the water and boil again for a couple of minutes.

• Take out the tea bags or if you use loose tea, strain the tea leaves.

• Pour your tea, one quarter of a teaspoon of salt, two tablespoons of butter, and a half cup of milk or a teaspoon of milk powder into a chandong, which is a kind of churn. Since churns are kind of rare outside of Tibet, you can do what some Tibetans do, which is to use any big container with a lid, so you can shake the tea, or you can just use a blender, which works very well.

• Churn, blend or shake the mixture for two or three minutes. In Tibet, we think the po cha tastes better if you churn it longer.


Courtesy of Yowangdu.com

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