My curiosity for Kashmiri Tea : Noon Chai began almost a month ago. I went through archives of pictures and recipes of a unique light pink tea that almost instantly went up on my list of tea’s to try out.
In the traditional Kashmiri chai preparation, a brand of Kashmiri green tea leaves was used although some recipes used oolong as well. Frequent trips to a local chaat shop proved very useful as I remembered seeing a Pakistani supermarket that happened to have the particular brand of Kashmiri tealeaves.
Preparation of Kashmiri noon chai involves a certain degree of technique and a lot of patience. The first time round I made sure I followed the recipe step by step. But I ended up with a brown color salt tea that left me pretty frustrated. But I wasn’t going to give up. I tried a slightly different technique for the second trial and managed to get the lovely pink color.
A reddish black concentrate is first brewed which takes about an hour. Ice is then whisked vigorously into the concentrate after which milk is added which changes the color to pink.
Why is the tea Pink?
Getting to the unique pink color of this tea. The main components are the green tea leaves, baking soda, salt, and milk. The use of baking soda brings out the color of the tea. Some of the tannins in tea are acid-base indicators; they are one color in an acidic environment and another color in an alkaline environment. Acidic lemon juice and tea turn light yellow whereas alkaline baking soda and tea turn reddish-brown. (1)
Tibetan butter tea and Kashmiri noon chai
I find that there is a similarity between Tibetan butter tea and Kashmiri noon chai. Of course not in the technique but both teas use salt as one of the main ingredients. I think it has a lot to do with both Tibet and Kashmir being situated at a high altitude and the tea being a warming agent. Although I don’t think salt has an active role to play here since the energy generated by salt is cold.
This tea is consumed frequently and most of the population likes to take it at high temperature, which can cause thermal injury to the gastric epithelium.
Consuming high amounts of this salted tea (more than four cups a day) is independently associated with high risk of esophageal and gastric cancer. (2)
Emperor Jahangir’s thoughts about Kashmir:
“Agar Firdawsbaroy-izaminast, haminast-u haminast-u haminast,” when translated means, “If there is Paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this.”