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Noon chai
Alternative namesKashmiri tea, Pink tea, gulabi chai, Namkeen chai, Sheer chai
Region or stateKashmir
Associated cuisineKashmiri
Main ingredientsgunpowder tea, milk, soda, salt or sugar

Noon chai (Kashmiri pronunciation: [nuːnɨ t͡ʃaːj]), also called Kashmiri tea, pink tea, gulabi chai,[1] Namkeen chai (Kashmiri pronunciation: [namkiːn t͡ʃaːj]),[2][better source needed] and Sheer chai (Kashmiri pronunciation: [ʃiːrʲ t͡ʃaːj])[3] is a traditional tea beverage originating in Kashmir. It is made with gunpowder tea (green tea leaves rolled into small balls), milk and baking soda.[3] It has become popular in Pakistan, India and the Caribbean.[4][5]

Etymology

The word noon means 'salt' in several Indo-Aryan languages, such as Kashmiri, Bengali and Nepali.[6]

Kashmiri chai

Kashmiri Hindus refer to this Kashmiri tea as "Sheer chai".[7] "Shir", the term from which "Sheer chai" is derived from, means "milk" in Persian.[3]

"Tea pink" is also used as an adjective referencing the characteristic pink hue of the tea, such as to describe textiles.[1]

Preparation

Noon chai is traditionally made from green tea leaves, milk, salt and baking soda, and is usually cooked in a samavar.[1] The leaves are boiled for about an hour[8] with baking soda until it develops a burgundy colouration, then ice or cold water is added to "shock" it and make it stay that colour. When milk is added, it combines with the burgundy to yield its signature pink colour. It is then aerated by ladling out some of it and pouring it back into the pot to incorporate tiny air bubbles into it, a process that yields a froth and that may take hours to do by hand.[1]

Sugar is not traditionally used in Kashmiri recipes, although newer commercial preparations in many restaurants around the world and tea stalls that serve Kashmiri cuisine may include sweeteners or exclude salt.[1] In Pakistan, it is often served with sugar and nuts.[2]

Chemistry

When tea leaves are boiled, molecules called polyphenols are extracted from the leaves into the water. In green teas like those used in Noon chai, the polyphenols extracted act similar to the substance phenol red, which changes color depending on the pH level of the substance it is in—yellow when it is acidic, and red when it is alkaline. Since Noon chai is boiled for a long time, a lot of color-changing polyphenols are extracted from the leaves. When alkaline baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is added to it, the tea takes on its deep red color (which then turns pink with milk).[8]

History

Origin

Origin stories of the tea allege that it came from Yarkland (which later became Xinjiang, China) to Kashmir through the Silk Road. Noon chai originates from the Himalayas, where salt was added as an electrolyte to prevent dehydration at high altitudes. It is also related to other Central Asian salty milk teas, such as the Uyghur tea etkanchay and the Mongolian tea suutei tsai.[1]

Use of alkaline salts, like baking soda, in tea originated from the Tibetan plateau, where naturally-occurring deposits of soda were used to darken po cha. Later, in Ladakh, eastern Kashmir, hot spring soda crystals were used in local butter tea, or gur gur cha. Residents of Kashmir Valley adopted the practice from Ladakh, importing soda (called phul) from them and brick tea from Lhasa, then replacing yak butter with milk and cream to fit local tastes.[1]

Cultural significance

Noon chai is popularly consumed numerous times per day in Kashmir, served with breads such as kulcha, girda, or tsochwor. [1]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Subramanian, Sribala (2020-01-29). "The Art and Science of Kashmir's Pink Tea". Gastro Obscura. Atlas Obscura. Archived from the original on 2023-02-21. Retrieved 2023-02-20.
  2. ^ a b "NOON CHAI / SALTY TEA / PINK TEA – KASHMIRI NAMKEEN CHAI". Life 'n' Such. April 16, 2007. Archived from the original on 8 February 2014. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Gupta, Yogesh M. "Sheer Chai Recipe". IndiaCurry.com. Archived from the original on 2012-07-06.
  4. ^ "Check out this pink Kashmiri-style chai from Tea House Windsor".
  5. ^ Sharma, Siddharth (2023-08-27). "Sheer Chai Recipe". Recipenames.com. Retrieved 2023-11-08.
  6. ^ Bengali and English dictionary. Oxford University. 1856. Retrieved 2014-11-22. ... নূণ Salt ...
  7. ^ Scaachi Koul (December 18, 2019). "The Crisis In Kashmir Has Started A Conversation I Don't Know How To Have". BuzzFeed News. Archived from the original on April 12, 2022. Retrieved April 12, 2022. Kashmiri Pandits eat a ton of meat, we perfected rogan josh, we love nadru and tsiri tsot and sheer chai (this last one is truly one of our worst culinary contributions to the world and we should be ashamed).
  8. ^ a b D’Ulivo, Lucia (2018-01-01). "Solution to pink tea challenge". Anal Bioanal Chem. 410: 19–20. doi:10.1007/s00216-017-0691-1. S2CID 33962221.