Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Tibet Nuggets

In honor of my upcoming trip to Tibet, I will post some interesting facts that I come across during my research. Here's a section on yak-butter tea from Lonely Planet Tibet:

"Bo cha, literally Tibetan tea, is unlikely to be a highlight of your trip to Tibet. Made from yak butter mixed with salt, milk, soda, tea leaves and hot water all churned up in a wooden tube, the soupy mixture has more the consistency of bouillon than of tea (one traveller described it as 'a cross between brewed old socks and sump oil'!). When mixed with tsampa (roasted-barley flour) and yak butter it becomes the staple meal of most Tibetans and you may well be offered it at monasteries, people's houses and even while waiting for a bus by the side of the road.

At most restaurants you mercifully have the option of drinking cha ngamo (sweet milky tea) but there will be times when you just have to be polite and down a cupful of bo cha (without gagging). Most nomads think nothing of drinking up to 40 cups of the stuff a day. At least it stops your lips from cracking.

Most distressing for those not sold on the delights of yak-butter tea is the fact that your cup will be refilled every time you take even the smallest sip, as a mark of the host's respect. There's a pragmatic reason for this as well; there's only one thing worse than hot yak-butter tea: cold yak-butter tea."

I've also read the following description of how to make yak tea:

1. Put some yak butter out in the sun for a day until it's slightly rancid
2. Boil water and pour into a cup
3. Dump aforementioned rancid yak butter into cup

I will definitely do some first hand investigation. One doesn't always get the chance to enjoy some exquisitely rancid tea every day, right?