Yak Butter Tea


The recipe for Yak Butter Tea is as simple as boiling water.  Tea leaves, Yak Butter, Salt, and Water are brewed together to make a salty (vs. sweet) tea which is high in calories.  It is traditionally a drink of the Himalayas (Bhutan, Tibet, India, and Nepal).  As the price margin between Yak Butter and Cow’s Butter increases, the latter is replacing the former as an ingredient in this traditional drink.

Yak Butter Tea is high in calories and well suited to the dietary needs of people working in the cold at high altitudes.  It is generally consumed (often several cups) early in the morning.

It is increasingly served in western-style cups but was traditionally served in small bowls of roughly the same size.


We generally assume that tea is ubiquitous in Asia, and that is certainly true, but Yak Butter Tea did not become the universal drink of the Himalayas until about the 13th century.  The first evidence of the drink in the Himalayas dates to about the 10th century.

The tea pictured to the right was served to me in Bhutan as traditional Yak Butter Tea.  It is most certainly a westernized version of the drink.  It contained less Yak Butter than the traditional drink and was less thick.  The traditional drink has been likened to a stew at times.

Pictured above, a Yak in Bhutan.


Or Simply - Butter Tea