Along with its breathtaking beauty, Kashmir is also popular for its lip-smacking delicacies all over the world. Not just the food but Kashmir is also home to some very special and heart-warming beverages like the Kahwa and Kashmiri Noon Chai.
Kashmiri tea, or what is also known as the ‘pink tea’ is an integral part of the Kashmiri hospitality and the Kashmiri way of life. It goes by many names- Kashmiri chai, pink tea, noon chai or namkeen chai. Known as ‘Noon chai’ in the local language, the word ‘noon’ literally means salt. This tells us that this unique tea isn’t exactly the ‘sweet chai’ that we all know.
And yet, it is incredibly special and loved. Not just by the Kashmiris but also by the countless travellers who’ve tasted it; for it carries the true essence of this heavenly place and its people.
Even though this chai can be enjoyed at all times and during all kinds of weather, there is nothing quite like a cup of hot Kashmiri chai on a cold day. It is often consumed two to three times in a day.
What is Kashmiri chai or pink tea?
The pink tea or Kashmiri tea is indigenous to the Kashmir valley. It is known for its salty taste and the pretty pink color that it has. Now you might wonder what is it that makes this tea pink? Is it a spice? No. Is it any artificial food color? No! Rose petals? Um, no!
What actually makes this tea pink is a pinch of baking soda. The soda reacts with the tea leaves to give it that beautiful pink color. Sounds pretty interesting, right? Well, it certainly is.
It is made using special Kashmiri green tea leaves, water, milk, some spices, salt, a pinch of baking soda, and then topped with some chopped dry fruits and nuts for a richer taste. The pink Kashmiri chai is then served with some homemade bread, salted cookies, and some other traditional snacks for a complete tea-time experience.
Traditionally, the noon chai is made in a kettle called ‘samavar’. However, it can also be easily made in a regular pot. In fact, the traditional kettle is now getting replaced with everyday pots.
The chai has a rich, creamy, buttery and nutty taste and it is slightly thick. This tea feels like a warm hug; especially on a cold day.
Not only is this chai delicious but it is also believed to be good for your health. It is beneficial for the heart, good for stomach ailments like heartburn and bloating and the tea is also believed to help in the reduction of stress and anxiety. The tea is also quite refreshing and energizing and prepares you for the long day that lies ahead.
Although the origin of this tea is unclear, one thing is for sure- the Kashmiris love this chai.
Now that you know what the Kashmiri chai is, let’s take a look at how it is made.
Kashmiri Tea Recipe/ Pink Tea Recipe:
Before you head out to make the Kashmiri tea recipe, you must remember that it takes time to master the art of making this tea. You may not get it right in the first attempt but it is definitely worth the time and energy.
Also, this tea is best made with the Kashmiri tea leaves. You will only get the best and the original taste with the Kashmiri leaves. However, if you don’t have it, you can use regular green tea leaves.
Now, without any further ado, let’s get into the pink tea recipe.
Kashmiri Tea Recipe Ingredients:
Here are the ingredients that you’ll need for making the Kashmiri chai.
- 7 to 8 cups of chilled water
- 3 teaspoons of Kashmiri tea (or green tea)
- Some spices (about 3 to 4 green cardamoms, a small piece of cinnamon and 1 star anise)
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups milk
- Sugar as per taste (optional)
- Some chopped almonds and pistachios for garnishing
Kashmiri Tea Recipe Instructions:
This tea requires efforts to make. So, follow the steps very carefully.
- Take about three cups of chilled water in a pot. Add all the spices and tea leaves to it and put it on the stove.
- Bring this to a boil and add the baking soda and salt at this stage. Keep cooking it until the water has reduced to almost one cup. You will see that the tea will thicken eventually.
- After the water has reduced to almost one cup, add two more cups of chilled water to it. Keep stirring it continuously.
- Again, you need to keep cooking this until the water has reduced to one cup again.
- After it has reduced to one cup, add the remaining 2-3 cups of chilled water to it and again keep cooking it until the water reduces to one cup.
- Thus, the base of our Kashmiri chai is now ready. Take it off the heat and strain the tea. This tea base can be refrigerated for about 4 to 5 days after it is made.
- Now, to make the pink tea, boil the milk. If you want it to be sweet, add some sugar to it.
- After the milk starts to boil, add the tea base that we had prepared.
- Stir it nicely and let it boil for a few more minutes.
- Our Kashmiri tea is finally ready!
- Take 2 cups and pour tea in them. Then garnish the tea with the chopped almonds and pistachios.
- Voila! Now, enjoy! You can have it with some naan/ bread or cookies.
Over to You
This is basically how the Kashmiri pink tea is made. The recipe might sound complicated but the end result is definitely worth it.
Next time you visit Kashmir, don’t forget to indulge in a warm cup of this unique Kashmiri tea. But, until then, try out this wonderful recipe!
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Mir Saeid is the Founder of Kashmirica, a brand that is poised to ‘Bring Exclusives from Kashmir to You’. An enthusiastic cultural entrepreneur, he is driven by a passion to bring about a social impact. He has a Masters in International Business from the University of Bedfordshire and has worked in leading Marketing positions at various SMEs and Startups for 8+ years.
A polyglot who English, Arabic, Urdu & Koshur, Mir loves traveling, reading, researching, and writing. And that is why he keeps writing about art, culture, life, philosophy, health, and just about everything else he knows.