Tibetan tea is a unique beverage served in the region of the Himalayas.
This black tea is enjoyed by the people of Tibet and other minorities around the world.
What makes this tea so different and so special?
From the shape of the tea, compressed and not loose leaf, to the special ingredients that are added when brewing this tea, Tibetans make a cup of tea suited to their needs that is different to what you are used to.
This is savory national beverage that is both nutritional and full of traditional friendliness.
Come and learn more about this Himalayan brew!
Typical Tibetan tea perpetuates an art of brewing tea that has long disappeared: the art of boiling tea. It is also known as Tibeti or Zangcha in Chinese.
While the rest of the world moved on to infusing loose leaf tea, Tibetans still make their tea from crushing a tea brick and cooking or boiling the tea. Finally the tea is churned with other ingredients such as yak butter, salt, sometimes rice, orange rind and spices.
The tea brick was a form of transporting tea that was typical of the Chinese Tang Dynasty (618 – 709AD), which consisted of pounding tea leaves into a brick-like shape. This compressed tea cake made it easier for tea to be transported along the eastern trade routes.
Tea bricks were so prized that at times they themselves were used as currency by traders. Typically these bricks were made with Pu Erh tea or black teas such as Lapsang Souchong.
Compressed tea may still be found today in many different shapes: balls, mushrooms, bowls, and the more common cakes and bricks. Some bricks are pressed with decorative engravings, like real works of art.
To use a tea brick, Tibetans break it up in a mortar and then bring it to a boil with other ingredients.
The Tibetan ethnic group may be found in the Autonomous Region of Tibet, but also in some other provinces in China as well as the Himalayan regions of Nepal, India and Bhutan. And for these people drinking tea is an indispensable part of their daily diet.
Due to the harshness of the high-altitude region where air is thin and cold and the land is arid, so vegetables and fruits are hard to come by. Tea is therefore regarded as warming, nutritional and essential.
Tibetans themselves are said to brink many cups of this favored beverage every day and offer it to guests whenever someone comes to visit.
Drinking Tibetan tea is a fundamental part of Tibetan hospitality. A guest is always greeted with a cup of tea served to the brim, that you should sip a little and allow your host to refill your cup to the brim each time.
Drinking more than one cup of this is common and expected and it is actually considered rude if you drink less.
Finally, as you take your leave, it is polite to drink the whole bowl of tea so as to honor your host.
There are different varieties of Tibetan tea according to what is added to the tea and what tea is used:
Tibetan black tea may have some interesting benefits due to presence of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and amino acids inside each cup that you drink.
Gastrointestinal Aid and Weight Loss Tea
Immune System Boost
Fighting Free Radicals
Benefits of Butter & Salt
Caffeine side effects
One of the reasons why Tibetans love their tea is because of the energizing ability it has due to its caffeine contents. However, for those who are sensitive caffeine this may be more of nuisance than a benefit.
Butter side effects
Salt side effects
Drinking Tibetan tea is a part of daily life for many Tibetans both in Tibet and in other corners of the world. It is how they start the day in the high altitudes of the Himalayas.
For some this tea may be an acquired taste when you are not used to taking your tea with yak butter and salt, but it is definitely worth a try.
So if you happen to find this tea on the menu of a Tibetan restaurant or a Tibetan tea house, don’t miss out on the opportunity to try it and order a cup of yak butter tea.
Or why not learn how to make Po Cha (butter tea) at home?
Buy Your Tibeti Tea Today!
Will you start your day with a cup of butter tea?
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”In the Taste of a single cup of tea you will eventually discover the truth of all the ten thousand forms in the universe.”
- Attributed to Kyongbong Sunim, Ch'an (Zen) Master
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