What is Butter Tea?
A few years back, I watched a couple of documentaries about Everest expeditions. One of the things that caught my eye was the butter tea that was being served up to the climbers in the Nepalese villages. It was so memorable because to me, it sounded so odd.
Butter tea of the type made by Tibetans is made by boiling the tea leaves repeatedly. The best quality tea is boiled for around half the day and takes on a very dark color. It is then put into a traditional tea churn and salt and yak butter get added. It is churned vigorously by hand or more recently with electric blenders and then served while still hot.
When it is ready to drink, the traditional butter tea of the region is a thick, purplish liquid. It is served up in clay jars or tea pots similar to traditional Japanese pots.
In modern times, people have adapted the traditional recipe. If yak’s butter, tea leaves and traditional churns are not readily available. butter tea can be made with regular tea bags. People can use any type of tea bag, whatever butter is available and an electric blender to churn their mixture.
Butter tea which is known as Po cha in Tibet is not just drunk for its flavor. It also comes along with a surprising range of health benefits from boosting energy and improving digestion to moisturizing your skin.
Most of the tea’s beneficial health effects are derived from the antioxidants, caffeine and fatty acids found in this traditional brew.
Health Benefits of Butter Tea
Butter tea has been drunk for over a thousand years by the locals in the mountains of Tibet. Not surprisingly, one of its main uses is to help ease altitude sickness in these mountainous regions. It is also used by these hard working people to help boost energy. Even if you do not live high in the mountains, there are plenty of good reasons for you to start adding butter to your tea. Some of the most impressive benefits of this traditional drink are listed below.
1) To Boost Energy
Butter tea has traditionally been used by the local Tibetans to give themselves a boost of energy. Living in such a high altitude and working so hard, they get a great boost from drinking this tea on a regular basis. It is high in caffeine which is known to provide the body with more energy.
Even those of us that do not live such demanding lives could do with this type of boost and butter tea can provide you with the necessary kick. Not only does the caffeine in the tea help increase your energy levels but the healthy fats provided by the butter can also help give you the power you need to get through a hard day at work or school.
2) For Brain Health
The Tibetans have long been aware of the special antioxidant value of this ancient tea. By now, I am certain that even those with a passing interest in health are familiar with the health benefits of natural antioxidants. They can help reverse the damage caused by environmental free radicals and reduce the risk of serious disease.
One of the diseases that antioxidants is known to protect against is brain disease. As we age, our cognitive abilities tend to wane. This can result in less serious forgetfulness and lack of focus or even the onset of more serious conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Drinking plenty of this antioxidant rich tea may help reduce the risk of developing these conditions in the long term.
3) To Improve Digestion
Butter tea may help improve many of the symptoms of poor digestion including dyspepsia and bloating. It is believed to reduce stomach acid levels and may even help relieve the symptoms of acid reflux and GERD. According to traditional use, it can also help boost the body’s metabolism and help you to digest your food more efficiently. This means that you will gain more nutrients from the food that you eat.
4) Weight Loss
It sounds a bit strange that adding butter to your tea could positively impact your weight. However, butter tea drunk in moderation might work to suppress the appetite and also help to burn more fat as energy.
The caffeine found in butter tea works a type of stimulant which boosts metabolism without causing you to feel hungry. Because butter tea is also a rich source of fats, it can help you to feel fuller for longer and stop you from wanting to snack so often throughout the day.
Eating less and burning more calories is a sure fire way to keep your weight under control and might even help you lose a few pounds in the long term.
5) Altitude Sickness
Unsurprisingly in an area of the world located so far above sea level, the people have managed to adapt by eating and drinking the produce that can help them overcome altitude sickness. Anybody that has ever spent any time in the mountains will know that altitude sickness can be extremely serious with dizziness, nausea and confusion being common symptoms. People traveling into the clouds might find relief from drinking butter tea every day.
6) For Skin Health
People in the harsh mountain landscapes of Tibet have long appreciated the ability of butter tea to moisturize their lips and skin. It helps prevent chapping and burning from exposure to the wind and sun. Butter tea can help keep the lips and skin moisturized, fresh and healthy even in the most arduous conditions.
7) For Heart Health
There is no getting around the fact that consuming too much butter is not good for your cholesterol levels. We also know that high cholesterol is generally bad for the heart and increases the risk of heart disease. However, butter tea is high in healthy linoleic acid which are known to be good for the heart and can actually reduce your level of bad cholesterol.
There is no evidence that butter tea can help improve your heart’s health but the locals in the area suffer far less heart disease than people in the West
8) For Diabetes
The lionleic acids in butter tea may help control blood sugar levels and have a positive effect on people suffering from diabetes. Again, there is no firm evidence that proves this to be the case but anecdotal evidence suggests that it may be true.
9) To Boost Immunity
The antioxidant contained in butter tea include catechins known to be extremely potent and have a major impact on your health, One of the ways that they can help is by boosting the immune system helping you stave off illness and maintain your health.
How to Make Butter Tea
The traditional type of butter tea found in Tibet is time consuming to make and not many of us have access to yak’s butter and traditional churns. Fortunately, you can make your own version of butter tea that calls for far more available ingredients and a lot less time.
What you will need
- four cups of fresh water
- 2 tablespoons or so of black tea leaves
- 2 tablespoons of good salted butter
- half a teaspoon salt
- half a cup of milk
- Bring your water to the boil
- Add your tea leaves
- Take off the heat and steep for at least three minutes
- Strain your mixture
- Add the milk
- Pour the mixture into a blender and add your butter.
- Blend for a minute or two
- Serve hot and drink up
Precautions and Side Effects
- Butter tea when drunk in moderation may very well be good for you. However if you live a sedentary lifestyle, the high fat and cholesterol content may cause many negative effects including an increase in blood pressure, cholesterol and weight gain.
- Butter tea contains caffeine which can cause headaches, jitters and insomnia especially if it is drunk to excess.
- Butter tea is also high in salt. Salt can cause an increase in blood pressure which can impact your general health and heart health in particular. It can also cause fluid retention.