Kashmiri tea is a unique chai from Kashmir Valley made from green tea, salt, baking soda and milk. What makes it special is not only the creamy flavor, but a beautiful pink color too. And yes, you can make it at home!
What is Kashmiri tea called?
Other common names for Kashmiri tea are Kashmiri chai, Pink chai or Noon chai. Word noon means salt, an ingredient that is always used in making a traditional pink chai.
Why is Kashmiri Chai pink?
Kashmiri Chai is a traditional drink with delicious flavor and unique pink color. The pink color doesn’t come from an artificial (or natural) coloring, it’s a result of chlorophyl in tea reacting with bicarbonate of soda that’s added to boiling tea leaves.
Sometimes the color of your Pink tea may not turn out as pink as you may like, or as pink as you see on the images. While it is possible to get a very intense pink shade, you may need to experiment to get the best ratio of leaves, water, soda, cooking time and technique. Never add too much soda or it will ruin the flavor. The color won’t influence the flavor, so even if your tea is light brown, you will still have a chance to enjoy the true authentic flavor.
What does Kashmiri chai taste like?
The traditional Kashmiri chai will include salt too, but you can make one with green tea and sugar only and still appreciate the flavors of green milk tea. Unlike other milk chai teas, Kashmiri chai is made with green tea, rather than black. The type of tea is important to get the right flavor and color. Although the traditional chai is made with green tea from the same region, you may be able to choose any stronger tea such as Pinhead Gunpowder. Light green or roasted tea leaves are not suitable for making this drink.
Spices in Pink tea are optional, but is you want to use them, keep it delicate. Pink Chai is not as intense as the traditional black chai, and the focus should be on tea itself.
Kashmiri chai is not the only tea made with salt – Tibetan Yak Butter Tea is made with salt too.
Which soda is used in Kashmiri tea?
For making Kashmiri chai you will need a bicarbonate of soda or simply called baking soda. Baking soda is different from baking powder, although baking powder usually contains baking soda too. Using baking powder for making Kashmiri chai won’t give the same effect.
Interestingly, the same bicarbonate of soda may be used when cooking vegetables to preserve the intense green color. However, there is a catch. For both purposes, you will need to use just the right amount. Too little and you won’t get the best results, too much and and both flavor and texture will be ruined. The very important step in making Kashmiri Chai is adding an ice cold water at the end.
It’s possible to buy a pre-made Kashmiri tea mixture with green tea, spices, salt and sometimes sugar, but they may contain artificial pink color too. To make the best Kashmiri Chai with only natural ingredients, it may be better to make it at home.
Easy Kashmiri Chai recipe
There are many techniques to make a Kashmiri chai, with a few important steps. Although the authentic Kashmiri chai is always made with salt, if the sound of a salty tea sounds wrong, leave it out. In Kashmiri chai salt is not as pronounced as it would be in Tibetan tea, because Pink tea includes both salt and sugar. You can use milk alternatives, but choose the creamier ones, such as cashew milk. Adding some chopped nuts to your tea will make it even more irresistible. This tea recipe doesn’t use any spices, but you can add cinnamon, cloves, cardamom or star anise. For the tea on the image we used Guranse Estate green tea leaves and got a very intense purple color.
You will need:
- 1 tablespoon of Kashmiri tea leaves or Gunpowder or Guranse Estate green tea leaves
- 1+ cups water
- A pinch of salt
- A pinch of bicarbonate of soda
- 1 cup of semi-skimmed or full fat milk
- 1-2 teaspoon os sugar
Step by step instructions:
- Add tea leaves and 1 cup of water to a small saucepan.
- Add salt and spices (if you are using them).
- Bring it to a boil and reduce fire to low medium heat.
- Add a pinch of bicarbonate of soda and stir.
- Let it simmer for at least 30 minutes with occasional stirring. When the water reduces, add a cup more.
- After 30-40 minutes your tea should have a deep reddish color. Now add a cup of ice cold water.
- Stir and add milk and sugar.
- Simmer for another couple of minutes.
- Remove from fire and strain.
- Pour into cups and decorate with chopped nuts.
Why your tea is not pink?
If your tea doesn’t exactly turn out pink, you will still be able to enjoy a delicious flavor. Here are some reasons:
- Using the wrong type of tea – Experiment with different tea types as some may be more suitable for making this tea. Avoid light green teas or roasted teas.
- Using old tea leaves – Always use fresh tea leaves, possibly those that you bought in the last couple of months. Research showed that chlorophyl content significantly reduces over time, and may drop up to 50% in the first 5 months of storage.
- Not boiling long enough – Boiling the tea for less than 30 minutes is likely to result in a less intense pink color. Boil them longer if needed.
- Forgetting about ice cold water – Add a cup of very cold water at the end, but before adding milk.
Find more chai recipes here.