Tibetan Butter Tea Recipe

Monk drinking butter tea
Photo by BobWitlox

Tibetan Butter Tea Recipe


This is the “watered down” western adjustment to the original butter tea. This is however a healthy broth – like tea .

• Water • Plain black tea (in bags or loose) • 1/4 teaspoon salt • 2 tablespoons butter • 1/2 cup milk or 1 teaspoon milk powder


One churn, blender, or large drink container with a tight lid.

The Old Way of Preparing Butter Tea

In Tibet, the process of making butter tea takes a long time and is pretty complicated. People use a special black tea that comes from an area called Pemagul in Tibet. The tea comes in bricks of different shapes, and we crumble off some tea and boil it for many hours. We save the liquid from the boiling and then whenever we want to make tea, we add some of that liquid, called chaku, to our boiling water. For the butter and milk, Tibetans used to, and still do, use yak butter and yak milk.

Preparing the Tea

Lucky for us, it is much easier to make ‘po cha’ outside of Tibet. You can use any kind of milk you want, though I think the full fat milk is the best, and sometimes I use Half and Half, which is half cream and half milk. Most Tibetan people who live outside of Tibet use Lipton tea, or some kind of plain black tea.
This po cha recipe is for four people, more or less.
• First boil five to six cups of water, then turn down the fire.

• Put two bags of tea or one heaping tablespoon of loose tea in the water and boil again for a couple of minutes.

• Take out the tea bags or if you use loose tea, strain the tea leaves.

• Pour your tea, one quarter of a teaspoon of salt, two tablespoons of butter, and a half cup of milk or a teaspoon of milk powder into a chandong, which is a kind of churn. Since churns are kind of rare outside of Tibet, you can do what some Tibetans do, which is to use any big container with a lid, so you can shake the tea, or you can just use a blender, which works very well.

• Churn, blend or shake the mixture for two or three minutes. In Tibet, we think the po cha tastes better if you churn it longer.

Courtesy of Yowangdu.com


Enlightened Breakthrough in Tibet

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Tibet was meant to help me heal my heart. I planned a pilgrimage to walk around the holy mountain and ask for forgiveness and the release of anger and disappointment. I wanted a chance to readjust.  A group of 25 homeopathic doctors invited me to join them on their Tibetan adventure.  I prepared myself for the high altitude climb by joining a health club and did much sports training before the trip.

Yet when I arrived after a week of travelling from New York, my energy was totally zapped.  Rainstorms had washed roads away and broken mountains loose.  We had to jump over slippery rocks from one end of a wild riverbed to the other, our knapsacks dragging down our backs.  I’m amazed I did not slip into the wild waters. I made it to Milarepa’s cave, the holiest and most famous yogi in Tibetan Buddhist tradition.  I placed my hands on the huge rock that was rolled to the side of the cave entrance and, like so many thousands of people before me, I hoped to leave my sorrow with this rock.  But instead I must have picked up on the sorrow thousands of people had left there.  I broke into  sobbing, heartbreaking cries that seemed to go on forever. I finally quieted down when I fainted.  The Tibetan tour guides made a fire Puja, praying for a good transition through the Bardo, the state between life, death, and reincarnation which is where I felt I was.

Finding Resolutions in Tibet

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So many times in life the bitter experiences guide you to the most important wake up calls to grow up, and climb up the next step on the ladder of awareness.

Like the healing teas, the most potent ones are almost always the most bitter. Dandelion for gall bladder cleansing: dandelion cleanses the toxins from collected anger held in the gallbladder.  Goldenseal: a harsh taste–br-r-r-r-r–who likes it?  Goldenseal cleans your liver, detoxifying it from an excess of fat and greed.

Two of my most bitter experiences brought me closer to enlightenment.  As the Dalai Lama says:  Your enemy is your greatest teacher. Respect him…

A divorce brought me to Tibet. The loss of a great love brought me to the peak of the most sacred mountain in Tibet, Mount Kailash, known to worshipers of all faiths as the center of the earth in it’s sacred power field. This mountain and the country of Tibet would change the direction of my life.

Tea and the Dalai Lama

Some quotes from the Dalai Lama to read while you sip.

1- Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.

2- If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.

3- If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

4- My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.

5- Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

6- The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual’s own reason and critical analysis.

7- We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection.

8- We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.

9- Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

10- If you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry.

Fellini,Sunshine and Me

Photo by Udit Kulshrestha

When you’re young you can’t imagine getting older. It’s such a foreign concept. Your parents and grandparents are older and old. Those people in the front of buses, the people who eat dinner while it’s still light outside, those are old people, not you. Then all of a sudden you wake up and you’re one of those people. It happens to the best of us. Take solace. It’s really not so bad.  Let me let you in on a secret: start to pay attention.

That’s it… just pay attention to your life because it’s going on right in front of you every day. If you pay attention when you’re young you’ll notice some things that will really make an impression on you for the rest of your life and may even change your life. Here are some of the things I paid attention to all those years ago on my first trip to India.

The sun: a great big fiery red ball in the sky turning a hot glistening white.

The clear decorative water basins at the Taj Mahal:  To cool off from the heat I walked in daintily at first and then with enthusiasm–just like Anita Ekberg in Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita,” when she jumped into the artistic, century-old Trevi fountain in Rome. (Somewhere in some Japanese photo albums are pictures of me taken by Japanese tourists who were there that day.)

My beautiful brocade blouse bought for pennies at the market.

The ineffectual drip of my hotel shower.

The majesty of the Taj Mahal.

The ascetic who with one gesture taught me volumes.