Kashmir is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. It is in the North-East region of Pakistan and is worldwide famous for its Pashmina shawls, silk rugs, kurtas, dry fruit, saffron and of course cuisine. This particular tea/chai is a traditional beverage from Kashmir. It is also called Noon (salt) Chai, Pink Chai, Chinen Posh Rang (peach flower color) and Sheer (milk) Chai. This aromatic tea is also served in other parts of Pakistan at special occasions, weddings and during winter season.
Special tea leaves are used to make the dark “kehwa” with green cardamoms, cinnamon and star anise infused water. This kehwa is then strained and diluted with milk to get this beautiful pink color and served with dry fruit.
I am a big fan of this tea and keep a bottle of kehwa ready all through the winter season. If you ask me it is the most beautiful tea in the whole world with rich flavour and sweet aroma. A friend of mine in Kashmir gave me abundant supply of this tea when we visited them a year ago, Thank you , Shazia!
It stores quite well in an airtight container if quality is good. The great thing about this beverage is that the kehwa can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator; just add milk, a good pinch of salt, boil and enjoy 🙂
ingredients: ( yields about 7-8 cups of kehwa)
6 cups of water
10 green cardamoms, slightly crushed
1 cinnamon stick
1-2 star anise
3 1/2 tbsp fresh Kashmiri Chai leaves
3-4 cups cold water
milk, as required
salt, to taste
sliced almond/pistachio to serve, optional
In a large stainless steel sauce pan combine 6 cups of water and green cardamoms. Cover the pot and bring it to boil over medium flame. Let it boil for 3-4 minutes. Add the cinnamon stick, star anise and tea leaves, lower the flame to low medium, cover the pot and let the mixture boil for about 10-15 minutes ( see note). Add cold water and bring to a boil on medium high flame, without covering the pot. When the tea boils lower the flame to low and let the tea simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Do not cover the pot. This way the surface will stay cooler while the kehwa is simmering and this hot and cold combination will extract the maximum color and flavor.
There will be dark pinkish bubbles on the surface when the kehwa is ready. Strain the mixture, discard the leaves, cardamoms, cinnamon and star anise. Pour the kehwa in a jug or bottle and can be stored in refrigerator or up to a week.
To serve, pour desired quantity of kehwa in a saucepan and dilute with milk, bring to a boil, strain and serve with salt and sugar ( according to taste) and sliced nuts.
You can add a pinch or two of baking soda at this point to get the colour from the tea quickly or if the tea leaves are a bit old.
In my experience, the flavour and colour of the tea is the best when kehwa is rested for about 8 hours (or overnight).
If possible, store the tea in a disposable bottle as it might leave stain on glass containers.