I guess it makes sense that, now that it is warm out, I am dreaming of the high, cool Himalayan Plateau and Tibetan Yak Butter tea. Maybe it is because I am sick in bed and in need of something fortifying and warm. Pocha, as it is called in Tibetan cultures, is a churned and salted yak butter tea that, once you develop a palate for it, is actually quite addictive! The trick is to keep from overdoing the butter or the salt so you have a nicely balanced cup– perfect for your next high mountain expedition or lazy spring day in bed!
Tea is thought to have arrived to Tibet in a wedding dowry, as it did to England in that of Catherine de Braganza of Portugal in the 1660’s. It is said that Chinese princess Wengchang, who married the Tibetan King, Songstan Gampo, introduced it to the Tibetan courts during the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD).
Yak butter was added to the tea and it soon became a staple of daily life in Tibet, one of the Four Pillars of Life, along with yak meat, salt and tsampa. On the windswept high plateau, pocha is chapstick. It is vitamins and minerals. It is warmth and sustenance and it is also community to the nomadic tribes that ended up trading horses for their precious tea along the Tea Horse Road from Southern China to Tibet.
The long journey into the mountains transformed the Chinese green tea into a fermented tea we know now as puerh, thus introducing beneficial probiotics to the Tibetan’s protein-rich, produce and fiber- lacking diets.
A tea version of bulletproof coffee? A quick, energizing, fat-burning meal replacer? A boost to your digestive system? Tibetan Yak Butter is all that. We’ll be serving it this winter at the new Firepot tea bar– come in for a cup or try it now.
Makes: 1 cup or 8 ounce thermos
Time: 8 minutes
You will need:
1 cup of water
2 teaspoons of black tea. I like to use a leafy, organic Assam, but Lapsang Souchong gives it a smoky taste if you like that and aged shou puerh, with its funky, mushroomy notes is more authentic.
3 Tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon salted, grass-fed butter (unless you can find yak butter of course)
A tiny pinch of salt, about 1/16 of a teaspoon, or you can just let the salt in the butter account for the salt. Perhaps taste it before adding extra salt in the end.
Either a milk frother or a glass jar with a lid, like a canning jar
In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil.
Add the tea and bring back to a boil.
Then remove from heat.
Steep for 3 minutes and strain into the glass jar.
Clean the leaves out of the saucepan and put the strained tea back into it with the milk and butter and salt.
Bring back to a boil and then pour into a jar with a lid and shake for 2-3 minutes. The more you shake the better it will be- the flavor changes as the milk and butter churn the way milk changes flavor as it turns to butter.