The Ladakhi way to beat the cold
A spoonful of salt, butter
In the chilly month of December when nerves freeze and hands shiver, there is nothing more comforting than a hot cup of tea. But even the spiciest and strongest brew would fail at 3,500 metres above sea level, where temperatures plunge below -20°C in a ruthless winter. People in the Himalayan region, the highest mountain range in the world, know how to beat this cold—with a cup of warm gurgur cha.
The beverage, also called butter tea, is a must in Ladakh and the upper reaches of Himachal Pradesh, including Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti. But don’t get misled by the name; the beverage is not made from tea leaves. Instead, it is a heady concoction of milk, yak butter, salt and an infusion prepared from plants available in the Himalayan region.
“In the winters when all businesses shut in the valley, we sit with a flask of gurgur cha and knit socks,” said Norsing Lamo. She runs a tea stall in the only market in Leh, the largest town of Ladakh.
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