Salt and butter with your tea? Tibet's highly caloric hot sipper

Slides right down your throat: butter tea.
Slides right down your throat: butter tea.

Honey and lemon, sure. Cream, sometimes. But tea with salt and butter?

That's how they serve it in Tibet--and also the pan-Asian restaurant Gangchen on Eat Street. Butter tea, also called po cha, is simply black tea with a little milk, salt, and butter added.

And it actually tastes a lot better than it sounds.

The flavors of the butter, salt, and milk are more pronounced than those of the tea leaves, so it has a rather savory flavor and slippery texture. It's closer to the liquid you'd lap up in a bowl of corn chowder than what you'd typically find in a tea cup.

Tibetans drink the stuff constantly, as the warm, caloric beverage is suited to their high-altitude, often cold climate and labor-intensive, nomadic lifestyles. So stash the thought of butter tea in your mental Rolodex and pull it out next winter when you need something to get you through all the shoveling. Gangchen offers the beverage to its guests gratis---as well as green tea for those who haven't yet warmed up to the idea of drinking salty butter.

Gangchen Bar and Restaurant 1833 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis 612.872.8663 Gangchen website

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