Gulabi (aka Pink) or Kashimiri Chai is J’s specialty in our house. He is a chai lover. He doesn’t need much of an excuse to make or drink tea any time of day. So it is not a surprise that Kashmiri chai ended up being a drink that he has managed to perfect. I got a few requests to share his recipe when I shared this on my IG stories. So here you go!
For Kashmiri chai the distinctive pink colour comes from using a special type of tea leaf. You can find loose kashmiri tea leaves on amazon, or at your local asian grocer. It is a type of green tea leaf that, when cooked a certain way, undergoes a chemical reaction that turns the tea from light brown to a dusky pink. It is always so mesmerizing watching the tea transform before our eyes.
The key is in the technique. The leaves must be boiled with spices and a bit of baking soda for a long time, till the liquid reduces by half, concentrating the tea flavour. Then it needs a cold shock with some ice water to help encourage the chemical reaction and voila! The colour starts to change right before your eyes. This tea concentrate can be kept refrigerated or even frozen for months till you are ready for a cup of pink tea. Then just warm it up with a bit of milk, add some chopped nuts on top and you have a pink treat.
If you find that after cooking, the tea doesn’t turn as vibrant pink as in the picture, this could happen for one of three reasons: You either did not boil long enough, your tea leaves are too old or stale, or the tea leaves are not the correct kind. It will still taste great, it just won’t be pink. Try again with another batch of kashmiri tea leaves, and you may have better luck!
We like to make a big batch of the pink tea concentrate and freeze it. That way when we have a craving for kashmiri chai, we just defrost the amount we need and add some milk to serve.
Kashmiri (Pink) Chai
For the Tea Concentrate
- 4 cups water
- 2 tbsp kashmiri tea leaves
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 star anise
- 1-2 cinnamon stick
- 5-6 cardamom pods
- 1 cup ice water
- 4 cups milk (non-dairy works too)
- 4 tbsp sugar (optional)
- chopped almond & pistachio (for topping)
Kashmiri Chai Concentrate
- In a large pot, on medium heat, bring to a boil: 4 cups water, 2 tbsp tea leaves, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 star anise, 1-2 cinnamon sticks, and 5-6 cardamom pods, slightly crushed to release the seeds.
- Cover, and allow to simmer on medium low for 10-12 minutes till the liquid has reduced by half.
- Turn off the heat. And have 1 cup of ice water ready.
- Cold shock the tea by quickly adding the ice water. Using a heat proof glass or mug, carefully scoop out the tea in the pan, and pour it back in – do this scoop and dump 25- 30 times. This will encourage the pink colour to develop – trust me you need to do this a lot – don't skimp on this!
- You should see the colour changing as you mix.
- Strain the tea concentrate. This tea concentrate can now be refrigerated or frozen till you are ready to make kashmiri chai. Use about 1/2 cup of tea concentrate for each cup of tea.
Make the Kashmiri Chai
- Return the tea concentrate to a large saucepan on medium heat.*
- Add 4 cups of milk, and 4 tbsp sugar (if using) and bring to a boil – about 5 minutes.
- Pour into tea cups, and sprinkle with some crushed pistachios and almonds just before serving. Enjoy!