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Have you heard of butter tea? I hadn’t until recently, and it’s definitely a little unusual. If you have heard of it, you might know that there are quite a few weird nutritional claims that get made about buttered tea (and buttered coffee, too). I’m not even going to go into that here. Heck, there’s plenty of nutritional controversy in some circles on butter and milk alone, so this could become a very convoluted post if we let it. Frankly, I’d rather not. I just want to enjoy my tea in peace, so let’s keep it simple: if you want to try this, great. If you don’t? Also great! I’m not going to try to convince you of anything, except that I enjoyed making this recipe and find it a pleasant way to take my tea on occasion. 

Personally, I’m not scared of butter (or of whole milk), but I do tend to think of butter as something to use a few times a week as a luxury, rather than an everyday necessity. So when I saw an article about yak butter tea on the NPR website, curiosity got the best of me and I wondered if something similar could be made using cow butter.
You see, not only do I love tea, I also love to be outdoors year round. And I find that loading up on good fats and protein makes the difference between an easy winter run or a fun, frosty day hiking in the mountains and a cold, miserable “I’m wearing 14 layers and I’m still an icicle and why can’t I stay hydrated, i hate everything!” kind of jaunt. Anyway, the article discusses how yak butter tea may be an important key in the Tibetan traditional diet in terms of helping them stay warm and hydrated. Granted, their winters are considerably worse than the ones here. Our winters might dip into the teens or lower a few times each winter and make me miserable on occasion, but we’re usually quite balmy, all things considered. Still, monkey see, monkey do, so I considered whether or not to give this a go.

It turns out I’m not the first one to adopt the idea. The paleo community online has devised a number of very complicated (and expensive) riffs on butter tea. Most of the ones I saw require using a blender (not a great idea with hot liquids- just saying. . .).

I decided that sticking as close to the traditional ingredients as possible (butter of some kind, tea of some kind, a pinch of salt) and an easy, no fuss blending method (why, hello, whisk!) would more than suffice for my purposes. Less noise and less clean up needed in the mornings is always a good thing, plus I can take the whisk camping.

After experimenting a bit, I was pleasantly surprised by my very simple recipe.  My favorite Irish breakfast tea is great with this, and then I decided to try making it with this Equal Exchange Rooibos Chai (the company sent me some to try last fall, and it really is wonderful stuff!) because it sounded even tastier than plain tea. Turns out, yes, it’s fantastic!

So, here’s my homage to butter tea. 


  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 or 2 EE Rooibos Chai tea bags (I use two)
  • 1 tsp butter
  • pinch of salt
  • honey to sweeten
  • milk if desired

Bring the water to a boil in the saucepan and turn the heat to low. Add the tea bags and steep for 8-10 minutes or so. It’s fine to turn your attention to making breakfast or doing the dishes or whatever. No need to watch it like a hawk. After about five minutes, remove the tea bags and whisk in your honey, salt, and butter. Once everything is combined and the tea takes on a slightly frothy, cloudy look, pour it into your fav coffee mug or tea cup and enjoy!

The butter doesn’t make that much of a difference in taste or mouth feel to me, and it’s just a really nice cup of rich chai. It’s become one of my favorite winter treats to have before I head outside for the day. Sometimes I’ll make some even on days when I’m staying in to do desk work, and it helps tide me over until lunch time!

All the Best,


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