This yak butter tea is a magical Tibetan morning staple.
It’s said that Tibetans drink up to 60 small cups a day for hydration and nutrition. It’s made from black tea leaves, yak butter, water, and salt, while having a soup-like consistency. It also tastes salty instead of sweet.
The butter tea is also known as po cha and is a necessity in Tibetan communities, because it lends warmth in the cold, thin Tibetan air. It also offers a bit of an energy boost and keeps drinkers hydrated in the Himalayan mountains, because the human body loses water roughly twice as fast at 10,000 feet above sea level.
Making butter tea the traditional way takes quite some time. The tea leaves need to be soaked first, then boiled for multiple hours. Then the tea goes into a wooden churn called cha dong. Butter, milk and salt are added and mixed together after — though modern Tibetans use a blender to speed things up.