How to make your own Bhutanese suja (butter tea) at home

Email

All you need are 5 simple ingredients and 10 minutes of your time.

What is suja?

Suja is Bhutanese butter tea, loved for its savoury and creamy nature. The butter in suja gives it a salty taste, setting it apart from the typical sweet Indian tea. Some people think that suja is the inspiration behind the Bulletproof coffee, a high-calorie coffee drink whose main ingredients are coffee beans and butter. 

Suja likely originated from Tibet, which has a history of tea that dates back to the 7th century, during the Tang Dynasty in China. However, it was only during the 13th century that tea became popular in Tibet. 

Legend has it that a princess from China married the king of Tibet, paving the way for trade routes between China and Tibet, also leading to the import of tea to Tibet. 

Subsequently, the tea evolved into the suja we know and love today, thanks to the cold weather in Bhutan and the Bhutanese love for dairy products. Bhutan is cold, especially during winter in the mountainous area, so the butter in suja keeps them warm.

Present-day, the Bhutanese think of suja as their go-to drink, serving it at weddings and Losar (Bhutanese new year).

If you have tried suja before and loved it, or are curious to have a taste, here is some good news! You can now make your own suja at home. It’s easy and takes no more than 10 minutes of your time.

The ingredients to make suja

The following recipe serves 2 people.

  • 1 ½ tbsp of tea leaves*
  • ¼ cup of milk
  • 2 cubes of unsalted butter
  • 2 ½ cups of water
  • ½ tbsp salt

*The Bhutanese use Jarhi tea for suja. But when overseas where Jarhi leaves are not easily available, suja can be made with any black tea such as Lipton tea, earl grey tea, or even pu-erh tea.

Jarhi tea

Easy steps to make your own suja

Step 1: Bring water to a boil. When the water starts boiling, lower the flame.

Step 2: Add tea leaves to the boiling water, then let it simmer for a few minutes. Afterwards, remove the tea leaves. You can do this with a strainer. At this point, the tea should be dark brown in colour.

Step 3: Add milk.

Step 4: Add butter.

Step 5: Add salt to taste.

Step 6: Churn the tea. 

Step 7: Tada. Enjoy your tea!

The benefits of suja

Suja isn’t just a treat to the taste buds, there are health benefits too.

The salt in suja moisturises your skin by retaining moisture, giving it a healthy glow. The drink also helps with digestion by reducing the acidity level in your stomach.

Furthermore, the calories increase energy level, which is also a reason it is well-loved among the Bhutanese, especially those in the mountainous areas who work long, hard hours on difficult terrain. 

Moreover, suja is rich in antioxidants which helps to combat the free radicals in your body. It prevents the deposition of plague and other bacteria in the brain too, hence improving brain health. 

Other benefits of suja include reducing altitude sickness and its anti-diabetic properties.

The downside of suja

Unfortunately, there are also disadvantages to consuming suja. 

For one, the butter in suja may lead to high cholesterol in your body that causes cardiovascular problems.

Also, excessive salt in your suja may lead to high blood pressure. Therefore, it is recommended that you add salt to taste.

With these in mind, it is advisable to drink not more than 2-3 cups of suja a day, or less if you are suffering from severe cardiovascular or blood-pressure related ailments.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should be cautious because of the high caffeine content too.

If you enjoyed making your own suja, why not try cooking your own ema datshi too? While suja is the must-try drink when you visit Bhutan, ema datshi is the must-try food. “Ema” means chilli, while “datshi” means cheese. 

Ema datshi is a stew that consists of chilli and cheese. It is spicy, it is fiery, and it is a treat to your taste buds. There are other versions of the dish as well, like kewa datshi (potato cheese) and shamu datshi (mushroom cheese).

Learn to make your own ema datshi here: How to make your own ema datshi in 10 minutes

Otherwise, read about other popular drinks in Bhutan here: 6 popular beverages to enjoy in Bhutan.



Related Posts

6 popular beverages to enjoy in Bhutan

From butter tea to different types of alcohol, Bhutan has something for everyone.

May 11, 2021 10:54

How to make your own ema datshi (chilli cheese) in 10 minutes

You can make your chilli cheese as spicy as you wish.

Oct 25, 2021 11:26

What are those singing bowls that you see in Bhutan

The vibrations from the bowl affect your body and mind.

May 22, 2022 12:06

The hot springs of Bhutan are believed to have miraculous healing...

The Bhutanese believe that hot springs are a blessing from the Buddha.

Apr 08, 2022 21:52

What are the five main fruits in a Bhutanese fruit bowl 'thokay'?

There are usually five fruits that make it to the 'thokay' (fruit bowl) placed on the altars or in front of the King,...

Mar 08, 2022 15:54

The best way to experience Bhutan is to spend a night at a...

Farmhouses in Bhutan are an architectural feat, made with only mud, stone, and no nails.

Mar 04, 2022 11:38

Latest

News

Colours Beyond the Wall Volume II: Reformation through Art

‘Do you see the eyes?’ ‘Look closely and you would see the eyes with tears streaming down. And this is the nose,’ Kinga (name changed) said...

Apr 26, 2022 22:01

Travel to Bhutan: go off the beaten path in eastern Bhutan

You will find settlements on high grounds and isolated valleys. You will see rolling hills, deep gorges, and green pastures.

Mar 28, 2022 15:44

Features

If you love vibrant colours, you’d love the textiles of Bhutan

From the dyeing to the weaving, the Bhutanese have nailed the process.

May 21, 2022 17:26

What went on at Miss Bhutan 2022 preliminary competition

The 3rd edition of Miss Bhutan is underway and the Preliminary Round was held and broadcast live on BBS Channel 2 on 15th May 2022 from...

May 19, 2022 21:11

Business

The enormous role of hydropower in Bhutan

Bhutan uses hydropower to conserve the environment, produce electricity, and achieve economic self-reliance.

Jan 25, 2022 11:43

Online businesses are becoming more and more popular in Bhutan

Even though the Internet was developed in the 1960s, the tiny Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan was only introduced to it in June 1999.

Jan 20, 2022 12:41

Sports

Outstanding individuals, schools and clubs awarded for their contributions to grassroots football

On December 22, 2021, the Bhutan Football Federation (BFF), a bronze member of the AFC Grassroots Charter,presented awards to unsung heroes...

Jan 11, 2022 14:15

Bhutan's national women cricket team won ICC Women's T20 World Cup Asia Qualifier 2021 opening match

The United Arab Emirates is currently hosting the ICC Women's T20 World Cup Asia Qualifier. The two ICC Academy grounds in Dubai Sports City...

Nov 23, 2021 11:13

Travel

Trace the footsteps of the Divine Madman on this hiking trail

There is no better way to connect spiritually with Drukpa Kuenley, the “Divine Madman”. The trail will take you downhill for about four...

Apr 28, 2022 22:30

Been to Bhutan before? Stand a chance to win FREE flight tickets to back to Bhutan!

If you’ve been to Bhutan before, we want to hear your story.

Apr 15, 2022 19:49

Lifestyle

What are those singing bowls that you see in Bhutan

The vibrations from the bowl affect your body and mind.

May 22, 2022 12:06

The hot springs of Bhutan are believed to have miraculous healing properties

The Bhutanese believe that hot springs are a blessing from the Buddha.

Apr 08, 2022 21:52

COVID-19

A detailed summary of Bhutan's COVID-19 management and plans moving forward

With offices and all businesses open, movement of vehicles allowed and critical services resumed from 21st March 2022, Bhutan braces for a...

Mar 22, 2022 11:23

Vaccinated tourists to undergo 5-day quarantine in Bhutan from April 25

What you need to know about entering Bhutan from April 25.

Mar 14, 2022 14:21

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!

Download Daily Bhutan Mobile App

Connecting with us just got easier!