WHAT IS KASHMIRI CHAI (PINK TEA) AND WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
Kashmiris don’t actually call their chai “Kashmiri Chai”. KASHMIRI CHAIThat’s the term used by Pakistanis and Indians to describe the Kashmiri Noon Chai (translated to Salt Tea). As the name suggests, Noon chai is a salty drink, but has gained popularity across Pakistan as a sweet concoction.
Often called Pink Tea, Kashmiri chai is a milk tea characterized by its dusty pink color and garnishing of crushed nuts. It’s brewed with green tea leaves and baking soda, and then mixed with milk to give it a distinct pink color.
Even within Pakistan, Kashmiri Chai is a bit of a delicacy because of thehttps://www.teaforturmeric.com/20-minute-kashmiri-chai-pink-tea/ long,somewhat arduous process of making it.
HOW I DEVELOPED THIS RECIPE
To be honest, I felt a bit of imposter syndrome while developing this recipe. Because 1) I’m not Kashmiri and didn’t actually grow up in Pakistan, where it’s a treat often served at winter weddings. And 2) I didn’t want to downplay the art of making an authentic cup of Kashmiri chai. Here’s a Kashmiri Tea Connoisseur’s take on this.
But, I did want to make an easy, fool-proof version that’s doable for the majority of us while honoring Kashmir’s beautiful tea culture. So what started as a quick, expectation-free experiment soon became a possibility. And I found myselfgleefully preparing it every night, timing myself and obsessing over the shade of pink To compare, we tried it at several spots around Houston and noted that this 20-minute version is more pronounced in flavor and aroma without being heavy
- 1 Sauce Pan
For Ice Water
- 1 cup room temperature water
- 3 large ice cubes
For Kashmiri Chai
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp Kashmiri chai leaves, or sub any non-bitter green tea leaves
- 2 star anise (badiyan)
- 8 green cardamom pods
- 2 whole cloves (loung), optional
- 1 cinnamon stick, optional
- ⅛ tsp heaped baking soda
- 1 cup whole milk
- ½ cup half and half (See Note 1)
- ¼ tsp kosher salt – may need less if using sea salt, or to taste
- 2.5 tsp sweetener of choice, I've tried cane sugar, brown sugar, and date syrup
For Serving (Optional)
- 1 tbsp raw almonds, crushed using mortar and pestle
- ½ tbsp unsalted pistachios, crushed using mortar and pestle
- Prepare ice water: Combine room temperature water with 2-3 large ice cubes and set aside.
- Heat a medium saucepan over high heat. Add water, Kashmiri chai leaves, star anise, green cardamom pods, cloves and cinnamon (if using) and bring to a boil.
- Once it comes to a boil, add the baking soda. It’ll fizz a little. Allow this mixture to boil over high heat for 5-6 minutes. Occasionally, use a ladle to aerate (scoop and pour back) the tea. You’ll notice the froth in the water go from pale green to a deep pink color. If not, add another 1/8 tsp of baking soda. (See Note 2) The water will be greatly reduced, almost evaporated.
- Add the prepared ice water (discard any ice cubes). If you’d like, you can aerate several times to deepen the color. Add the milk, half & half, salt, and sweetener. Allow it to a come to a light boil, then immediately turn off the heat. Do not allow it to boil for too long as it'll start to lose some of its pink color. Taste and adjust salt and sweetener.
- Strain the tea into cups and add crushed almonds and pistachios, as desired.