Chopstick Cinema

Celeste Heiter's Adventures in Asian Food & Film

Beverages to Go With My 'Seven Years in Tibet' Dinner

The most common Tibetan beverage is a warming brew called Po Cha (Butter Tea). This tea is an interesting presentation of the garden variety black tea that is consumed millions of times a day all over the world. It can even be made with the Lipton tea bags you probably already have on your pantry shelf.

In Tibet however, the process is somewhat more complicated, as the tea comes in compact bricks. To prepare the tea, a chunk of the brick is crumbled into a kettle of water and boiled for several hours until it forms a strong, bitter concentrate called Chaku. When it comes time to make Po Cha, a little of the Chaku is diluted in a pot of boiling water. Butter, milk and a little salt are added to season the tea, and then the mixture is churned to emulsify the ingredients, which keeps them from separating. In a modern kitchen, a blender works just as well.

Since it's so simple to make, I'm going to try a pot of it to go with dessert, but being a special dinner, I will also be serving a bottle of Napa Valley Pinot Noir, my favorite red wine.