I'm going to have a go at making Kashmiri tea today. This is a type of green tea, which is made with full fat dairy milk, flavoured with cardamoms and salt and garnished with ground almonds and pistachios. It's quite rich-tasting and the salty flavour is said to help keep out the cold.
Kashmiri tea has a beautiful pink colour, which is an art form in itself to correctly prepare.
According to my father-in-law who originates from Kashmir, my first attempt had the right flavour but didn't quite have the characteristic pink colour for this tea. When he was young, his mother used to make Kashmiri tea on a regular basis, so his opinion carries a lot of weight.
To make the base for this tea, there is a lengthy cooking process, which helps extract polyphenols from the tea. Green tea is loaded with polyphenols like flavonoids and catechins, which have many beneficial properties including acting as powerful antioxidants, which protect the body cells from damage.
Green tea has many medicinal benefits including:
- Boosts metabolism
- Lowers blood fats and cholesterol
- Lowers blood sugar
- Lowers blood pressure
- Antibacterial and antifungal when used topically on the skin
I totally understand why a lot of milk is used in this tea - It helps counteract the bitterness from the long cooking of the tea. The unusual addition of bicarbonate of soda helps to extract a red colour from the tea leaves but also adds an alkalising component to the tea.
I'm having another go today but I'm also going to create a slight twist by replacing the traditional full-fat dairy milk with my home-made non-dairy almond milk. I think my tea will still have good flavour and the almond milk will add beneficial nutrients plus it will make the tea lighter to drink.
Here's my version of Kashmiri tea, made with almond milk.
1/2 litre of water
1 tbsp Kashmiri tea leaves
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1-2 crushed green cardamom pods
1/4 litre of homemade almond milk (or use milk of your choice)
Himalayan salt to taste (pinch is ok)
- First I brought around 1/2 a litre of water up to a simmer in my special tea making pot, which has a pouring spout and handle. Any saucepan will do though.
- Next I added a tablespoon of Kashmiri tea along with 1/4 tsp of bicarbonate of soda. This creates a fizzing action in the pot.
- I then turned the heat to low and simmered the tea until a quarter of the liquid had evaporated.
This took around 45 minutes and I noticed that the tea colour had a red tinge to it.
- I then switched off the heat and poured it into a measuring jug and added some cold water to the tea to make it back up to 1/2 a litre in volume.
- I aerated the tea by pouring back and forth from the measuring jug to my tea pot from a height of around 10 inches. I repeated this a few times. This process adds oxygen into the tea mixture and helps the red colour to develop further.
- I then strained the tea. At this stage I had created the base for my Kashmiri tea.
I let the tea cool down and then stored it in the fridge until I was ready to use it.
- Later on in the evening I was ready to make my Kashmiri tea. I poured roughly a cup of the tea base into my cooking pot along with the seeds from a couple of crushed cardamom pods. To the tea I also added enough homemade almond milk until the tea had a pink colour.
- I heated the tea mixture up and simmered for around 5-10 minutes.
- Finally, I poured my tea out and mixed in a little Himalayan salt to taste.
- To be different I garnished my tea with some ground up cashews instead of the usual almonds/pistachios.
If you're not used to having tea which has been cooked with milk then you may find it an unusual taste. Even though my tea was made with almond milk, it was still quite rich. The addition of a little salt may not be to everyone's taste but it was not bad at all.
So what did my father-in-law think?
He was impressed with the pink colour but the addition of almond milk gave it a very different taste to what he remembered. My tea wasn't like the tea from his childhood but it had a nice nutty taste.
Not bad at all for a complete novice making Kashmiri tea.