Thursday, June 24, 2010

Butter Tea: Tea for Tibet

I'll take my tea with some yak butter and salt please.

In the mountainous regions of Tibet, Bhutan, and Southern China communities do not fill their tea cups with cream and sugar, but rather rich yak butter and sea salt. As many as 40 cups a day can be consumed.

This tea has become a cultural stronghold. It is what people serve when they have guests. It is how families share morning and evening time together. It is ritualistic and served at major events such as religious festivals, weddings, births, namings, and funerals.

It is a lovely ritual, but when I first heard about this practice I have to admit that I thought, "why butter?" I then answered myself, "Silly girl, butter makes all things better. Perhaps the question that the western world must ask itself in relation to our tea drinking practices is: why not butter?" Yes truly, why not butter?

Butter is: delicious, creamy, soft, and full of calories. For many families living in the Butter Tea Belt of Southern Asia this beverage provides a significant number of their daily calories needed for high altitude living. It also conveniently protects against cracking and chapped lips.

It would be quite an experience to sit down to a steaming cup of butter tea. I hope that someday I'll journey to Bhutan and partake.

When in doubt it is generally safe to say that whatever ails your spirit will be at least temporarily eased if you throw some butter on it!

photocredit:{hewy, butter tea vessels, neil }

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