It’s a season of hot days and sultry nights, but did you know that a cup of beautiful tea can refresh you like nothing else can? Choose a flavour that you love and it can make the end of your day just as good as when it began.

If you love the fragrance of cinnamon laced with a hint of cardamom in your tea, the Kashmiri Kahwa is the perfect brew to soothe your cares away. This tea, which is a blend of green tea leaves, saffron, cinnamon bark, cardamom pods, and Kashmiri rose, is much loved, both for its taste and for its many benefits. It is usually served with sugar or honey and crushed almonds or walnuts to add a richer texture to the brew.

What makes this tea so wonderful? Check out this compilation of facts of this special brew…

The Tea Route

Most people believe that the Kashmiris were the earliest addicts of the Kahwa. While most of India discovered their love for tea due to the British tea companies, Kashmiris used to get their special teas from China through Tibet. Many believe that Kahwa tea leaves came to Kashmir through the Spice Route, though some people say it originated in the Yarkand valley during the Khushan empire in the first and second century AD. Though its origins are still a matter of debate, today Kahwa is Kashmir’s trademark beverage and is often called the “magic tea”. This tea is also popular in countries like Bangladesh, Afghanistan and other regions of Central Asia. Even though the drink is Kashmiri, its name “kahwa” is a word of Arabic origin, which is why it is also called Arabic kahwa.

What is kahwa?

The gentle golden colour of this tea and its glorious fragrance make the kahwa a prince of teas. It is a brew that is an exotic mix of Kashmiri green leaves, whole spices, nuts and saffron. There are various varieties of kahwa, depending on what nuts and dry fruits are added to it. Some people add dried fruit like cherries, apples, raisins, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts, almonds, cashewnuts, dried apricots and dates to this tea, giving it richer flavours and delicious overtones.

Many people in Kashmir begin their day with a cup of kahwa tea. Besides keeping you warm during bitter winters, Kahwa is also a health drink. So, it is perfect for every season as it contains fruit and nuts in a green tea base.

How to prepare kahwa

The preparation of Kashmiri Kahwa is an elaborate and almost ritualistic procedure that has been honed through perfection down the years. Traditionally, it is made by grinding tea powder, cardamoms and cinnamon to a fine powder. Water is brought to a boil and the ground tea mixture is added and stirred. As the tea simmers, saffron strands are added to the brew. It is left to simmer for at least 10 minutes over a low flame, and then strained before serving.

Today, however, tea bags are also available which make the process of making this tea much easier. When you use a tea bag, the process is simple: heat the water till it reaches 90 degrees centigrade. Put your teabag in a cup and pour the hot water into it. Let it steep for four minutes to get the right flavour of the tea. You can sweeten the tea with honey if you like your beverages sweeter.

In Kashmir, the kahwa tea is made in a special utensil called the ‘samovar’, which is a brass kettle which has a central cavity within which you are supposed to put live coals. A bit of space is left for the ingredients to warm up in the vessel and there is a nozzle to pour out the tea. Some people drink the tea in a bronze cup, while others prefer cups made of china clay. The Samovar is made of copper or brass.

Don’t miss the beauty and delicious flavour of the Kashmiri Kahwa. The next time you need a pickme-up, let this fragrant tea mesmerize your senses and transport you to the serenity and beauty of the valleys where they were cultivated and nurtured over time.