KASHMIRI PINK TEA

KASHMIRI PINK TEA

This luxurious rosey pink tea has delicious floral notes and is lightly spiced with cardamom, cinnamon and star anise and beautifully sweet but also with a subtle saltiness. It is served with a sprinkling of crushed almonds and pistachios and is one of the prettiest and decadent teas you will ever have!

I still remember my first time tasting Kashmiri pink tea, I was fairly young, and it was at some Aunty’s house after dinner.  Even though it was only for the grown ups, I had to taste this beautiful concoction that looked like a cross between a strawberry milkshake and the girliest hot chocolate I had ever seen! I remember all the Aunty’s laughing that I wouldn’t like it, but I was determined, and managed to get some from my mum, and you can imagine my shock after the first extremely creamy salty sip! I spat it straight out. I had never been so disappointed! How could something so pretty taste so awful?! Unknown to me that night I had tasted the salty version of Kashmiri pink chai, also known as noon chai, which translates to salty tea. You could say that this salty version is the more traditional one that is commonly drunk in the cold winters of Kashmir.

Up to my mid-twenties I stayed clear of this gulabi chai (another name for this beautiful tea, and which translates to pink tea) and it wasn’t until a friend’s wedding in Pakistan where I had my second encounter with this tea. They were serving Kashmiri pink tea at the wedding and just as I said no to the waiter, my friends mum passed by and would not take no for an answer and out of politeness I had to smile and take a sip. I was in shock. This was how I imagined this gorgeous rose tinted tea to taste all those years back as a little girl! This tea was delicately floral in nature with a slight bitterness and also unbelievably creamy and luxurious and was salty, but ever so slightly and instead was deliciously sweet. From that day onwards, I fell in love with the sweet version of this beautiful tea and to this day it is my little treat that I like to have every now and then as this tea is too special and rich to have every day.

The magical pink hue of this tea is a result of the Kashmiri green tea leaves reacting with bicarbonate of soda as well as in the way that the tea is aerated by regular whisking whilst brewing and then finally being shocked with ice cold water. I do not understand the exact science, but all I can say is that it is magical.

This only works for the green tea leaves that are exclusively found in Kashmir, hence being Kashmiri green tea and the quality of these tea leaves are really high so it is important to be weary of knock offs available in shops and online, especially those that claim to be instant Kashmiri tea leaves, as there is no such thing. It’s basically poor quality tea leaves mixed with food colour. Making Kashmiri pink tea is a labour of love and requires patience, and there is no such thing as instant. I get my supply from Pakistan, but the best quality that I have found in the UK is by Vahdam. They already add some spice to their tea leaves so if using this, please reduce the cardamom pods to only 4, omit the cinnamon bark but keep the star anise.

Many of you are more than familiar with masala chai, well this is like its sister variation and is like a little hidden secret unknown to those outside of Pakistan and Kashmir which I am sharing with you because it is one of the most special and magical teas you will ever have!

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KASHMIRI PINK TEA

December 27, 2018
: 4-5
: 5 min
: 25 min

This luxurious rosey pink tea has delicious floral notes and is lightly spiced with cardamom, cinnamon and star anise and beautifully sweet but also with a subtle saltiness. It is served with a sprinkling of crushed almonds and pistachios and is one of the prettiest and decadent teas you will ever have!

By:

Ingredients
  • 3 cups (750ml) water
  • 4 tbsp Kashmiri green tea leaves
  • 1 cinnamon bark, broken into pieces
  • 8 cardamom pods, lightly crushed pen
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 cup (250ml) ice cold water
  • 2 -3 cups (500ml – 750ml) full fat milk
  • 3 – 4 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp crushed pistachios and almonds
Directions
  • Step 1 In a large pan add the 3 cups (750ml) of water, tea leaves, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise and salt. Bring to boil.
  • Step 2 After 2 – 3 minutes add the bicarbonate of soda. There will be some sort of reaction and mixture will bubble up. Reduce heat to medium.
  • Step 3 Cook for 15 – 20 minutes regularly whisking the brewing tea to incorporate as much air as possible. The mixture will reduce by approximately half and will turn from a murky greeny brown to a dark browny pink colour. You will see the bubbles forming on the top will be pinkish in colour.
  • Step 4 Take off the heat and add in the ice-cold water, giving it a final whisk.
  • Step 5 Strain the mixture so that you are left with just the strong brewed tea which will be an almost reddish-brown colour. Return the mixture to a clean pan.
  • Step 6 Add the milk and sugar and bring the mixture to boil. If you add 2 cups (500ml) milk the tea will be a pinky brown shade and much stronger in taste (this is how I prefer it), but if you add 3 cups (750ml) it will be more rosey pink (like in the pictures) and will be milder and creamier.
  • Step 7 Serve immediately with a sprinkling of the crushed pistachio and almonds on top.
  • Step 8 Enjoy x



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