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Butter Tea

Butter tea or Po Cha is a tea based drink that is prepared by first breweing tea leaves with water. Salt and yak butter is added to the tea along with milk. This variety of tea is commonly prepared in Tibet, Bhutan and Southwestern China. This tea which is locally known as goor goor in Ladakh, is also referred to as su you cha, su you chaI or cha süma by the Tibetans and Chinese minorities.

 

History of Po Cha

The exact origin of Butter tea is unknown. There are several mentions of the tea in 10th century literature but its popularity reached a high in late 13th century when it was adapted for use by the local Sakya hierarchy of the time. In modern day Tibet, this tea is now commonly drunk by locals all over the state.

 

Butter Tea Recipe: Ingredients Used and Preparation Overview

Butter tea is prepared by brewing high quality Pemagul tea leaves for atleast a day. Pemagul tea is sold in the form of bricks and is preferred for po cha. The resulting brew should be dark brown in color. Traditionally, the tea is skimmed and poured into a churning cylinder called the mdong mo and fresh yak butter and salt is added to it.  The solution is then churned vigorously to form a purplish stew that resembles thick oil. The tea is then poured into teapots and served immediately. To save time, modern methods brew the tea by boiling water and adding tea leaves to it. The leaves are then, allowed to steep till the solution is almost black. Salt is added along with soda. The solution is then filtered into a churn and butter is added. If the churn is unavailable, a mixer or a bowl and whisk are used. The tea is then poured out into large copper bowls that are always kept warm.  The concentrate of tea leaves is repeatedly used in large towns and it can be kept for several days. Milk is added to taste.  

 

Serving and Drinking Butter Tea

This tea is drunk through out the day to stave off the cold temperatures of the state. Usually, the tea is brewed continuously and then kept warm over a flame. Locals can consume 10-40 cups per day.  Traditionally, as a sip is taken, the host refills the cup for a guest resulting in a full cup. If the visitor does not wish to drink more, the cup has to be left as-is and consumed just before leaving. The tea is also mixed with tsampa or barley flour to provide a nourishing high energy meal for the locals.

 

Butter Tea Benefits: Health and Nutrition Facts

Butter tea is very rich in calories and provides the energy required for intensive work in the low-temperature climate of Tibet.