Butter tea is native to the Himalayan regions such as Nepal, Bhutan, India, and Tibet. It originated in an area between the greater Tibet and India. The butter tea dates all the way to the 7th century.
Drinking a cup or two of butter tea is a regular part of life in areas such as Tibet. It is consumed in the morning before work, during the break time, and is the most common drink served to the guests.
Traditionally, tea leaves, yak butter, water, and salt are used to make the tea. However, nowadays, butter derived from a cow’s milk used in increasing numbers. This use is owing to the greater availability and lower price of the butter from cow’s milk.
The butter forms the main ingredient in this beverage. Thus, the butter tea is better suited in high altitudes, where increased caloric energy is required.
Repeated boiling of the tea leaves produces a concentrate. The concentrate stays consumable for several days. This use of this concentrate is mainly in towns. The tea concentrate is then combined with salt and butter, put into a churner, and churned vigorously. Following the churning, the tea is served hot.
Nowadays, the use of an electric blender is on the rise.
Before we dive into the how-to-make butter tea, let’s look at the answer to you wondering, “what is a yak?”
What is a yak?
A yak is a long-haired, domesticated cow-like animal found throughout the Himalayan regions of India and Tibet. It also lives in Mongolia and Siberia. They can be called a high-altitude bovine cousin of the cow, grazing across the grasslands of Tibet.
Yaks are built heavily with a thick frame, sturdy legs, and rounded cloven hooves. They can be distinguished from other bovine (or cow-like) creatures by their handlebar horns and long hair. They have a pair of small ears, a broad forehead, and very smooth horns. Their necks are short with a hump over their shoulders.
And like most other animals, the males have a fur-covered scrotum, and females have teats. But unlike the regular cattle, yak grunts instead of moo-ing.
When it comes to their furs, yaks are generally or dark, black to brown color, but the color is known to vary.
Yaks carry the lung capacity of a regular cow thrice. This build-up is due to the thin air and rugged terrains in the place they live.
In the Himalayan regions, yaks are domesticated and kept primarily for their meat. The dung they produce is dried and used as fuel. They serve as a means of transportation across the mountains. Yaks are used to plow fields, and the milk they produced is often used to give cheese and butter.
The yaks, therefore, form an integral part of the lives and livelihood of the people of these regions.
Yak butter tea
Yak butter tea is widely consumed in the Himalayan regions and serve as an essential source of energy and hydration. Also, in Tibetan medicine, the combination of butter and tea is believed to give a more excellent mind-body balance.
Besides the provision of energy, butter tea also has significant health benefits. The salt in the tea regulates water and sodium balance in the body. The barley consumed with tea is a fantastic source of fiber and vitamins.
Ingredients for yak butter tea
- loose tea leaves or tea bags (black tea)
- yak butter
- whole milk
Note that yak butter is often tough to find. In such cases, any other butter can substitute a yak butter substitute. If butter altogether isn’t available, you can use ghee or clarified butter.
How to make yak butter tea
- in a pot, boil the tea leaves for several hours
- strain the leaves out, producing a tea concentrate
- the tea concentrate serves as an extremely strong tea base
- add salt and butter and tea concentrate in a churner
- churn and
The above is the method of making yak butter tea in a traditional manner. Since this takes time and is a tedious process, nowadays the yak butter tea is made as follows:
- Heat water in a pot and bring it to boil
- Add the tea
- Boil for five more minutes
- Strain mixture
- Discard the loose tea/tea bags
- Melt the butter and
- Put it in a blender.
- Add the boiling mixture, salt, and milk to the blender
- Then blend well.
- Finally, pour into a teacup or even a coffee mug
At the end of this, the tea produced is very hot and best enjoyed on a cold day. The butter tea also goes excellent with the traditional noodle dish of Tibet or even some bread or roasted rice.
It would also make a great breakfast drink as it comes loaded with enough energy to kick start the day.
Some French toast and yak butter tea, my goodness the day is alive!