Pink Kashmiri Chai
I have been chasing an easy way to make Kashmiri chai FOREVER. My sister and I stumbled upon it first in a little shop in the Murray Hill area of NYC. I have tried to make this so many times I have lost count. Name any Kashmiri chai leaves brand available on Oak Tree Road in Edison, NJ – I’ve probably tried it. I read that you can substitute green tea for Kashmiri tea so I tried many brands of green tea as well. I’ve outlined what worked for me below.
What is Kashmiri chai?
Kashmiri chai is also known as noon chai or gulabi chai. It is traditionally made from leaves from the Kashmir region. It is a creamy, milky tea that turns a lovely shade of pink when made. The tea takes longer to make than regular chai but it is well worth it. Many traditional ways beat the tea by hand or pour from one cup to another to aerate. I don’t use that method because I didn’t have much luck with it. Also, I found using a hand mixer to be a much quicker and easier route.
According to some research, Kashmiri tea was originally a drink for royals as the tea leaves were hard to come by. If you ask me, they are still hard to come by in the United States!
The tea is originally made with salt instead of sugar. My version uses sugar because that is how I like it. Feel free to give the original version a try!
What makes Kashimiri chai pink?
The tea becomes pink naturally! No colors used. The color happens because of the reaction of the chlorophyll in the tea with baking soda. From all my testing using fresh as possible tea leaves is key to getting the color right. That is why the old tea leaves in stores that have been sitting around a long time will NOT work. If you can get your hands on fresh Kashmiri tea leaves, great. If not, I found an alternative.
Tips to make Kashmiri Chai: Here’s what worked for me:
- Fresh tea!! Vadham Himalayan Green Tea – This brand has very fresh tea and I think this is what ultimately made the difference.
- Aeration: I used a hand mixer instead of stirring for a long period or pouring from one cup to another. Many lot recipes note to either pour the liquid from one cup to another (fento) or “shake the liquid” (I don’t even know) to help develop the color. I used a hand mixer and it was quick and easy.
- Baking soda: As mentioned, this is what makes Kashmiri chai pink in color.
Note: Kashmiri chai is traditionally prepared with salt and no sugar. Skip the sugar and add a pinch of salt if you want more of a traditional taste. I’ve used a different recipe with sugar, cardamom and crushed pistachios. You could add in rose water for a spin to it!
How do you make Kashmiri Chai?
The process entails boiling tea leaves then adding baking soda. It is then taken off the stove and ice cubes or ice cold water is added. This step helps with the color and also helps balance out the amount of liquid. Next, the tea is aerated to further develop the color. Then the tea is boiled with additional flavors you would like such as sugar and crushed pistachios. You can even add rose water for a different spin.
Check out the picture gallery below for step by step pictures to see the progression of color of the Kashmiri chai.
Try serving Kashmiri chai with some Gajar Ka Halwa Cupcakes (Indian Carrot Cake)
Or if you would like another unique drink, try out Whipped Rose Coffee
Try it? Leave a review, love to hear feedback! Or tag me on Instagram @some_indian_girl
Pink Kashmiri Chai
- 5 tbsp Kashmiri tea or green tea leaves
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups ice cubes
- sugar to taste
- 3-4 tbsp pistachios chopped/ground
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 tsp cardamom
- 1/3 tsp baking soda
- Bring tea leaves, cardamom and water to boil. Once boiling add in baking soda. Let boil on low for about 15-20 minutes. There should be about half the amount of water left at the end. Color should be deep red.
- Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes. Add in ice cubes.
- Use a hand blender to mix until frothy. Color should have developed into a pink tone.
- Transfer mixture to pot and add in pistachios and sugar to taste. Bring to boil then it is ready.
- Optional: sprinkle pistachios on top or add in rose water for a different taste
2 thoughts on “Pink Chai (Kashmiri Chai)”
Hey Shilpa, love this recipe so far. I live in Australia and can’t really get my hands on anything really fresh (we’re in lockdown). Any other alternatives? Can I use the green tea in the tea bags?
Hey Neil! You can certainly try the green tea in the tea bags but I would just be ready for the chance it may not turn pink. It would still taste good though and there is a chance it will get a pink tint, dependent on the brand. I only say that because I’ve failed many times using many grocery store green teas.
If you can order to home the tea brand Vadham sells Kashmiri Kahwa or Himalayan Green Tea and that brand has worked for me. I just took a look at Australian Amazon.com and saw these two brands which seem to be a bit fresher than the usual Tetley Green tea:
Hope that helps. Part of the fun is experimenting and getting a brand that works out! Hope you stay safe and the lockdown ends soon!