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Tibetan Food & Drinks

Different nature determines different products and different products determine different foods. The nature of Tibet is different from any other place in the world, so the foods there are quite different from us familiar with. Ghee, tea, tsamba, and beef and mutton are known as four treasures of Tibetan food, besides Barley wine and various milk products.



Tsampa, cooked glutinous rice pounded into paste, is the basic food and consumed daily of Tibetan people. Tsampa roasted highland barley flour mixed with Tibetan Yak-butter tea. The Tsampa served with buttered tea, some ghee, fine milk sediments and white sugar. Tibetan people eat Tsampa at every meal, and bring it as snack foods while traveling.



Beef and Mutton

Tibetans like to eat beef and mutton because meat can provide enough energy form to struggle with the coldness in the high elevation areas. Usually Tibetans boil beef and mutton with salt, ginger and spices. They take the meat in hands and cut them with their knives.

Died Yak Meat

Died Yak Meat


Ghee is the extract from the milk of flocks and herds. The Tibetan way to refine ghee is very intriguing. As milk separators are not widely used in the pasture area in Tibet, in some places Tibetan woman still refine milk manually via primitive separators.



Yak Butter

Yak Butter, refined from the milk of yaks, is the daily food of Tibetans. It has very high value of nutrition.

Thenthuk (Tibetan Noodle Soup)

A typical Tibetan noodle soup can keep the nomads withstand the coldness during winter time. It can be made either with vegetables or meat.


Salted Yak Butter Tea

Buttered tea is the favorite drink among Tibetan people. It is made of boiled tea poured into a long cylindrical churn along with salt and yak butter. Vigorous churning makes the ingredients well blended and ready to serve. Butter tea is drunk while eating Tsampa. When Tibetan people make the buttered tea, they mix boiled brick tea and ghee in a special can, add some salt, pour the mixed liquid into a pottery or metal teapot and finally heat up it (but not boil it). The buttered tea is quite salty, some people think it tastes more like soup broth than tea. People usually heat up the buttered tea because cold buttered tea is not easy to be digested and does harm to one's stomach.

Butter Tea and Tibetan Food

Butter Tea and Tibetan Food

Sweet Milk Tea

Tibetan sweet tea is similar to English and India teas. It is another popular alternative. Hot boiling black tea filter is decanted into churn and mixed with fresh milk and sugar. Many teashops in Tibet serve the sweet milk tea.

Chang/Barley Wine

Chang also called Tibetan Barley Wine, a thick White barley beer. It is brewed from fermented barley grown on the highland. The wine is mild, slightly sweet and sour and low in alcohol content. It is a very popular alcoholic drink in Tibet.
The taste of Tibetan food is light and mild. Most of dishes are seasoned only with salt, shallot, and garlic, without any other spicy flavoring, which represents the food culture of returning to nature.

Tibetan Barley Wine

Tibetan Barley Wine

Nowadays, in many Tibetan cities, Tibetan food is supplemented by Chinese food, mostly Sichuan food. Vegetables and fish become available in market. However, Tibetan people seldom eat fish due to their religion and custom. Restaurants can serve Tibetan, Chinese and even western food, and the restaurants grow rapidly in the streets to accommodate tourists. In Lhasa Hotel (formerly Holiday Inn), the restaurant can provide Chinese, Indian, Nepalese and western food. Kailash, Tashi, Snow Lands, Dunya (former Crazy Yak), and Makye Ame are popular among Travelers in Lhasa. The choice for vegetables will be limited due to the short agricultural season.

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