How to make our quick and delicious Sherpa Tea recipe – our favorite trail tea ever

| September 12, 2014


When you’re out on a day hike or backpacking trip in cold conditions, having a cup of delicious, hot tea with lunch or dinner can be a great pick-me-up.

In this article, I’ll show you how to make an instant tea mix in the tradition of the Nepalese Sherpas that will all-but-guarantee you’ll be draining your mug to the bottom and boiling more water for seconds.

Traditional Sherpa butter tea

The Sherpas have valued "butter tea" as a nutritious, warming, and hydrating drink for centuries. They make it by heating water with tea leaves, adding milk, and then when it’s bubbling, finishing it with the addition of yak butter and salt.

Now, I don’t know about where you live, but my local supermarket doesn’t stock yak butter. Plus, the traditional process is a bit too long-winded for my trail needs. So, here’s a recipe for making a powdered mix that works well on the trail while still being delicious.

Sherpa tea recipe

To make Sherpa tea mix you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup of powdered tea
  • 1/2 cup of powdered milk
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of salted butter

The taste of your tea will be significantly better if you use whole powdered milk, such as the Nido brand, or low-fat powdered milk, such as the Milkman brand. Also, make sure you buy powdered black tea with no added sugar, powdered milk, or flavoring. A suitable option is Lipton unsweetened iced tea.


Step 1

Mix together the powdered milk, tea, and sugar in a labeled ziplock bag or lightweight tub.

Step 2

To make the tea, spoon about 2 tablespoons of the mix into your mug, add a small amount of cold water, and stir to dissolve the powdered milk.

Step 3

Add boiling water to your mug and stir.

If needed, add more mix or more water to adjust to your preferred taste.

Step 4

Cut a knob of butter and drop it onto the top of your tea.


You can, of course, leave out the butter entirely. But, the salty butter is part of what makes this tea taste so good, and if you’re out there exercising hard and the rest of your diet is good, you could think of the butter as a nutritional supplement. If you’re not sure about that, you can decide for yourself after reading up on the current controversy over the connection between saturated fat and heart disease.

If you’re heading out on a backpacking trip where it won’t be so hot that the butter will melt, you can either pack the butter separately to add at the time you make the tea, or more conveniently, cut it into pieces and drop it into the powered mix.

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Photo credits: Mark Beresford

Category: Back in the City

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