On our cycling trip around China’s Yunnan province we tried butter tea, a drink typical of the Himalayan region in China, Nepal, India and Bhutan. Made from tea leaves, yak butter, water and salt, its high calorific content makes it a good thing to consume at the region’s high altitudes.
We drank ours at a roadside shack, watching as the lady owner churned the tea in a special churn and listening to her speaking Tibetan, the minority language of the region, to the child she had strapped on her back! We also ate her homemade yak milk yoghurt, which was really tangy and required a fair bit of sugar, as well as zanba flour cake. Made into a kind of dough from roasted qingke barley and yak milk, zanba is a staple of the Tibetan diet.
We did all this while looking out across a great sweeping plain on the way to Shangri-La, our destination for the night. It was a lovely break in our cycling trip, which even by then, day one, was proving challenging!