Butter tea is also known as Tibetan Tea, called Po Cha in Tibetan, and is made from tea leaves, yak butter, water, and salt. It is the favorite and traditional drink of Tibetans in Tibet and Tibetan communities in India or Nepal. People love to stay a morning or an afternoon in a tea house to spend their leisure time with friends. It seems that their conversation never ends.
To tourists, Butter tea is like a friendly companion. No matter where ever you are traveling in Tibet, cities, nomadic area or rural area, you are always treated by a cup of warm Tibetan tea by the local hospitality Tibetans.
History and Culture of Tibetan Tea
No one knows exactly when and who brought the tradition of tea drinking into Tibet. Yet, many scholars tend to give credit to princess Wencheng (AD 641) when she left her homeland and travelled all the way to Tibet to marry Songtsän Gampo, the thirty-third king of the Yarlung Dynasty of Tibet. This political intermarriage brought more than an end of conflict between two regimes and more importantly it triggered an upsurge of cultural exchange between Han people and Tibetans. As a result, many Han customs began to take root in the daily life of Tibetans. Due to the severe natural environment, there is little chance for vegetables to flourish at extreme altitude.
For years, Tibetans gradually came to realize the benefit of tea drinking and were convinced that many nutrition loss because of little intake of vegetables could be retrieved from drinking tea. Therefore, tea drinking became an indispensable part of Tibetans daily life and developed to be special Tibetan tea culture at the roof of the world.
Tibetan tea cup and pot
A bowl of highland barley wine or a cup of buttered tea is the first greeting from Tibetan people for visitors to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Being an essential drink of Tibetans, buttered tea symbolizes both local life and folk culture. Thus tea pots and kettles also become livelihood necessities in Tibet. The various buttered tea utensils made of different materials, may reflect the living standards of different families.
Tibetan tea recipe
Usually cow butter is preferred in making butter tea instead of all yak butter. Yaks, the important creature to Tibetans, are made full use, not only limited to a means of transportation.