tibetan butter tea

In 2004 the Dalai Lama came to Toronto to perform a Kalachakra and I attended for part of the week-long event. Aside from being a memorable spiritual experience in my life, it was a great cultural experience. I got to embed myself among hundreds of Tibetan expatriates for days—they must have made up about 80% of the participants. At lunch time, we had spicy Tibetian momos (dumplings) and after eating, and also during breaks, long lines formed at the various butter tea stands.

Each batch of butter tea finished quickly and it took forever to brew another batch of the salty and slightly oily tea, or so it seemed when I had to wait. I think it resembles a soup stock in flavour and richness more than it does even a milky tea or latte. The butter is churned right into the milk and apparently the longer it’s churned, the more flavourful it is. At first taste it was strange and them almost immediately after, appealing in how soothing it was. It offset the lingering heat of the cayenne in the momos. Because it is served and savoured while very hot, even the last sip is warming and it gave me the feeling that it was a perfect digestif. It probably wasn’t. Still, my first impression stuck and I love this tea best after a spicy meal. It will warm you more than any other hot beverage on a rainy, cold day too, I promise.

This story and the recipe that goes with it can be found in “FAT”, ISSUE 012 of Le Sauce Magazine! Get it here: http://www.lesauce.com/app