So, the other day I tweeted that I was in possession of some Instant Yak Butter Tea.
So, yak butter tea. It’s a Tibetan thing. I’ve actually attempted to make something approximating it before, only with cow’s milk, since that was all I could get my hands on. I did have a cake of pu ehr, though, so I didn’t use Lipton (though to be honest if I hadn’t had the pu ehr I wouldn’t have gone with Lipton, I’d have grabbed whatever loose leaf black tea I had on the shelf that I thought would hold up to a long steeping). It was…well, it was not appetizing. Part of that was the salt. Part of it was, I think, the thought that I was drinking butter.
But. When I discovered that I could buy actual Instant Yak Butter Tea, I knew I’d have to get some and try it. I mean, I don’t have the same tea-research needs that I used to, before I finished the Ancillary Trilogy, but I’m generally attracted to foods and drinks I’ve never tried before. And it was entirely likely that my attempt at butter tea was not a good (or even acceptable) example of it.
The tea is a powder that comes in little packets. Kind of like serbat wangi. (You’ve never had serbat wangi? It’s good! Very sweet, too sweet for me to drink it often, but it’s good. Kind of spicy.) Or like the “chrysanthemum beverage” I found on the shelf near the serbat wangi (but that, I did not like).
There are English instructions on the package, which basically say to dissolve a packet in a cup of hot water. The Yunnan Sourcing page also suggests adding it to a cup of pu ehr tea.
So, how did it taste? Well. Hmm. It’s…it’s not goaty exactly, because goat milk is a pretty distinctive flavor, but it’s sort of similar. Kind of. Sort of cheesish? Kind of? Which, I like cheese, but I’m still undecided how I feel about cheese in my tea. Or salt. It’s…I don’t know. I really don’t.
Who knows, it may turn out like Marmite did for me. One of my college roommates brought some Marmite back from a trip she took to the UK, way back in, gosh, this would have to have been the very late eighties? And she told me that the first time she encountered Marmite, she picked up the jar, looked at what was in it, smelled it, decided it had gone off, whatever it was, and threw it away. So she would understand if I didn’t like it. She put some on toast and gave it to me. And I was like, “Yeah, wow, I see why you threw this in the trash.”
About a week later I was walking to work and was suddenly struck with a desire to have toast and Marmite. Seriously. It’s delicious. In fact, I think I need to get myself a jar of Marmite soon.
So, maybe next week I’ll be walking along and suddenly just need to have a cup of yak butter tea. But, hmm. Yeah. I don’t know.