Yak butter tea is a daily staple dish throughout the Himalaya region and is usually made with yak butter, tea, salt and water churned into a froth. It is the "Tibetan national beverage" with Tibetans drinking upwards of sixty small cups a day for hydration and nutrition needed in cold high altitudes.Sometimes rancid butter is used, which gives the tea a different taste.
Melted yak butter may be mixed, in roughly equal proportions, with roasted barley flour (tsampa). The resulting dough, mixed with dates or sesame seeds, is used for welcoming guests. It can also be stored for later use and then melted into hot water, to which salt or sugar has been added.
Yak butter is used in traditional tanning of hides. Old, rancid butter is preferred over fresh.
Other non-food uses include fueling yak-butter lamps,moisturizing skin,and the traditional butter sculptures for Tibetan New Year.Such yak-butter sculptures may reach nearly 10 meters in height.
In Nepal, particularly in Kathmandu, yak cheese and yak butter are produced in factories and sold commercially. During 1997–8, twenty-six tonnes of butter were produced and sold this way in Nepal.