Noon chai, the kashmiri Beverage. India is home to many varieties of tea along with heavy drinkers of tea. Apart from the basic Patti vale chai or lip tin tea (which is a gift of colonizers), various other sorts have remained relatively unknown under discussed and within the safe compartment of their indigenous region.
Belonging particularly to the more under discussed teas in India is the Kashmiri noon chai, also known by the names: the pink tea, Kashmiri tea, shir chai, gulabi chai etc.
This local Kashmiri beverage is much loved (by both tourists and the locals) for its buttery, creamy texture; nutty and spicy flavour, dispensing the tea with its intimate savoury taste and its unique pink colour (all thanks to the addition of baking powder to its recipe)
The noon chai is not your regular cup of tea. Cooked and stored in traditional brass kettle known as samovars, best served in a khos (cup) with lavasa? During a chilly winter morning; its preparation process can be quite hectic (for an authentic drink). It requires different kind of tea leaves (green tea leaves can be a valid substitute), which are brewed in sodium carbonate (baking powder) (locally known as phul) which owes it its unique pink colour. The extract is further diluted through addition of milk, water and salt. Many alternatives of the noon chai have surfaced over modern times which substitute salt with sugar, giving birth to a new kind of sweet pink tea!
As famous as this unique coloured tea is for its salty flavour, it’s also surrounded by – share of controversies. Some studies have allegedly shown that excessive intake of noon chai may lead to Gastric cancer. Still, this claim hasn’t ceased locals from savouring a delish cup along with lavasa , some might even drink up to 4 cups a day! As love for this traditional tea is one among many things which binds them together.