Tea houses are a significant part of local culture. You can find them everywhere, in large cities and in remote villages. They are very popular with locals and budget-friendly option for tourists.
Tea houses usually have traditional Tibetan decoration. There are low wide tables and benches covered by carpets to keep you warm even during the cold winter time.
Tea houses, of course, serve traditional Tibetan tea as the name implies. They also serve Tibetan staple food.
WHAT TO TRY IN A TEA HOUSE
Many tea houses have their specialties. They are often run by families that have their own cooking secrets. It is always best to ask your guide if you are interested in something in particular.
In all tea houses, you can order Tibetan noodles. They are served with soup and with meat or vegetables or both.
Momos – Tibetan dumplings
Many tea houses offer momos – traditional Tibetan dumplings. Momos usually served steamed, and in some places, you can order fried momos. Traditional momos are with yak meat, vegetables, potatoes or farmers’ cheese.
In Lhasa some tea houses are large and you can find the menu with a good selection of Tibetan dishes. Some menus have images, making it is easy to order.
When you visit a tea house, you, of course, have to try traditional Tibetan tea. The main 2 varieties that you can order are butter tea and sweet tea. Butter tea is a popular Tibetan drink made of strong black tea and mixed with butter. Tibetans have it with bread, potatoes or enjoy it by itself.
Sweet tea is a tasty milk tea with some sugar.
MENU AND PRICES
Most of the tea houses don’t have a menu, because all locals usually know what they can order. We saw menus only in a few tea houses in Lhasa. They are usually in Tibetan and Chinese, no English. However, most menus have pictures that can help you to make an order.
Prices in tea houses are low and you should definitely check tea houses if you travel on a budget. Here is a photo of a menu in one of the small tea houses in Lhasa. Prices are in Chinese yuan.
RECCOMENDED TEA HOUSES IN LHASA
There are many tea houses in the Old Town of Lhasa. Your guide will be happy to show you the locations of the best tea houses that are near your hotel or places that you are visiting. If you would like to explore Lhasa on your own, here are some great places to start.
Tea house on Barkhor street
It is a large tea house with an entrance on the Southern part of Barkhor street. You will see the entrance on the right side when walking clockwise. The large tea house is on the second floor. There is a menu with photos and food is very good.
Small teahouses serving momos
There is a small Tea house near Yak hotel that is famous for its yak meat and vegetable momos. To find it, make a right turn on the Tengyaling road from Beijing road and walk until the next small crossroad. The tea house with 2 locations will be on both sides of the road. There is another tea house serving great momos. You can find it if you make a right from the first tea house and walk down the alley street.
Tea house overlooking the East side of Potala Palace.
This small tea house conveniently located next to Potala Palace and you can visit it before or after exploring the Palace. You can order noodles, yak meat with vegetables, and of course sweet or butter tea.
Tea house next door from the Sakya monastery in Lhasa
There is a Sakya monastery on the opposite side of Barkhor Square from Jokhang Temple. The building is easy to find because of its signature grey walls. There is a tea house adjacent to the monastery. The tea house is small but very popular with locals.
Norbu Tea house on Barkhor Street
The tea house is easy to find. There is a large sign outside with a staircase leading to the second floor. It is on the southeast corner of the Jokhang Temple. On the first floor of the building is the souvenir store. The large tea house is on the second floor. On the third floor of the building, you can find a Tibetan restaurant specializing in Eastern Tibetan cuisine. The restaurant has a rooftop terrace overlooking the Barkhor street. The tea house on the second floor is very popular and many locals gather there for a cup of tea or for a traditional Tibetan meal.
Large tea house opposing the Potala Palace at the bottom of Chak Pori Hill
It is a very popular place among locals. There are several large rooms with lots of seating. The main specialty of the tea house is Tibetan noodles. In the kitchen, you can see an incredible amount of noodles preparing to be served.
USEFUL TIBETAN PHRASES TO ORDER FOOD
Is there any noodle soup?
Please give me a glass of tea
Ja chik nang ronang
I don’t eat meat
Nga sha sza gi-me
This food is delicious
Khala di shimpo du
Enough! Thank you!
ལ་མན་ …. འགྲིག་སོང་
How much is it?
Khyöndom gong gatshö re?
Noodles — Thuk Pa — ཐུག་པ་
Vegetable noodles — Tsel Thuk — ཚལ་ཐུག་
Tibetan Noodles with meat — Bue Thuk — བོད་ཐུག་
Momos — Mo Mo — མོག་མོག་
Vegetable momos — Tsel Momo — ཚལ་མོག་
Meat momos — Sha Momo — ཤ་མོག་
Sweet tea — Cha Ngar Mo — ཇ་མངར་མོ་
Butter tea — Bue Cha — བོད་ཇ་
Water — Chu — ཆུ་
Salt — Tsa — ཚ་
Sugar — Ji Ni — ཅི་ནི་