Monday, October 18, 2010

autumn leaves and butter tea

Autumn has fallen upon us here in Istanbul, and while it has always been my favourite season, I do believe spring is this city's forté. Istanbul autumns are cold and wet, with spectacular grey, boiling skies. The crows and jackdaws come out in full feathered force, scavenging for forgotten walnuts and bits of bread left for pigeons. The city is wrapped in mystery; foggy damp nights, dark streets and a greener-looking Bosphorus. Some people find it miserable, the melancholy overwhelming, but I love it. There's a wonderful poetry to the grey, to the bite of cold on your cheeks. It's the season for tea and scarves, for burrowing into the arms of loved ones, for reading novels to the sound of rain.

As a person who feels cold easily, I'm forever in search of ways to keep warm. When I sipped my first Tibetan butter tea in Nepal this summer, I instantly fell for its thick, salty creaminess and knew I needed a recipe for the bitter Istanbul winter that was around the corner. There's something about the melted butter that keeps you warmer longer than a regular cup of tea, and if you can acquire a taste for the beverage, it's quite pleasing. I had dreamt of drinking po cha in the Himalaya since I was a little girl, and somewhere deep inside my seven year old heart, I knew I already loved it.

So here's a quick and easy way to make po cha, without the yaks and with modern appliances. It tastes pretty close to the yaky original, but milder, and far easier to make. Traditional po cha requires a lengthy process of churning in a vessel called a chandong, but takes mere seconds in a blender.

Boil two cups of water with two heaping tablespoons of loose black tea until you've got a deep, rich colour (I like my tea really strong, so adjust according to your taste buds), strain out the leaves and pour the tea into a blender with a splash of milk and a tablespoon of butter. Add salt to taste, and blend until nice and frothy. Now, this isn't everyone's cup of tea— most Western tongues will reject the notion of a salty, buttery tea, but I highly recommend everyone try a version of po cha at least once in life— it's oh so soothing!


renilde said...

Misty autumn days, the world around seems to become smaller,more intimate even sounds are more quiet and I will try a butter tea.

szaza said...

It does feel smaller— as if the world is curling up into itself.

I hope you enjoy your butter tea!
Warm wishes.

Anna Denise said...

How you stay so fit with all these lovely drinks and food is a mystery to me. I, personally, shall sacrifice my waistline in honor of this drink. I tried it yesterday... YUMMM

Thank you for sharing Samantha. And also for the lovely comment on my blog last week. It really touched me.

szaza said...

You are most welcome, Anna love.
You are truly a wonderful person, and I thought I would tell you so :)

As for fit... hm. I do run around a lot! I'm happy you like the tea— isn't it the best soothing cup of warmth?

Serena said...

OH, I must try this...thank you for the method. I like my tea really strong too ~ :)

szaza said...

You are most welcome!
I hope you like it :)

nazenin said...

I almost cried reading about po cha. Well, I didn't know that there is a butter tea in Himalayas, but I grew up drinking "shirchoy" ("shir"-milk, "choy"-tea), which is exactly the same butter tea, in Tajikistan. Now I am thinking to search about the history of this tea. It is impossible to imagine a well-started day for my mom without a cup of shirchoy. Hayallerimde bile olse evi, annemi ve cocukluklugumu canlandirdiniz icin cok sagolun.

szaza said...

I'm so happy to have reconnected you with your childhood memories of your mother and shirchoy! I believe it is a magical tea, and every time I sip it, I feel I am in Nepal with that glow of happiness in my heart.