The other names for this tea are ‘Noon Chai’ which means salty tea and ‘ Sheer Chai’ which means milky tea. All these name actually give some idea of the qualities we are looking for in this tea…pink, salty and milky!
It originates from the beautiful valleys of Kashmir, lying between the Great Himalayas and Panjal mountains. The people of Kashmir have it all around the day…from breakfast till after dinner, usually for breakfast it’s accompanied with crisp naan or delicious Bakarkhaani …a flat, crisp, layered bread, dunked into Pink Tea.
It’s pink colour is a consistent part of their culture, be it hot political discussions, weddings or bereavement, Noon Chai is served at all occasions. In the extremely harsh winters of Kashmir, this tea becomes a survival necessity.
If you fall in love with this tea…the next stage is usually the obsession to try making it at home and getting the pink colour right ! For that you must use loose green tea leaves or Chinese oolong tea leaves ( not tea bags) and whole milk.
Another must-do is the use of baking soda which is the key ingredient that turns the colour from greenish brown to pink. In the end whisking the tea is also important to bring out the colour and flavours more.
Usually people don’t take tea with salt…you can use sugar to balance the salt but its highly recommended that at least once you should try it in its traditional salty flavour. Personally I prefer it salty and find it as comforting as a cup of hot chocolate before going to bed.
4 teaspoon loose green tea leaves or Chinese oolong tea leaves
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick cinnamon
A few green cardamom
1 star anise
2 cups whole milk or more if you prefer lighter colour
Crushed almond or pistachios for garnishing
This Is What You Do:
Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer till the water is reduced to half.
Add soda and 2 cups chilled water. At this point start whisking the tea, fill a ladle with tea and throw it back into the sauce pan from a height.
Repeat this process for 5 minutes. The tea will be dark maroon and the bubbles on top will be pinkish.
Let the tea simmer another few minutes. Take it off the heat, strain and fill in a jug or bottle. This can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator.
To make Pink tea, mix this brew with milk. For light pink tea mix 1/2 cup milk with 1/2 cup brew. For stronger tea mix 3/4 cup brew with 1/4 cup milk.
Heat milk and brewed tea together in a cup in the microwave or in a pan over stove till boiling hot, add sugar or more salt to suit your taste.
Garnish with chopped almonds or pistachios.