Green tea as a drink of choice has picked up in metropolitan Indian as the “healthy” tea in the last 20 years. But Kashmir and the belt of Ladakh have been savouring Kahwah – a green tea preparation along with other Central Asian countries for a few centuries if not more. The Indian or Kashmiri Kahwah which is now packaged and sold like other green teas is traditionally made.
Green tea leaves are boiled with local saffron or kesar along with spices like cinnamon and cardamom as well as sometimes a dash of Kashmiri rose petals. There is also crushed dry fruits like almonds, walnuts and cashews added, it could be either or all or combination. It is had with honey or sugar as per ones preference.
Samovar, a traditional copper kettle is used to make this special tea that is a great beverage to sip amidst the cold in Ladakh and the Kashmir region. Nor ordinary pots and kettles are used mostly and sometimes milk is added to Kahwah as it is a great immunity booster for the ill and elderly.
The ancient Spice route that led to India is where Kahwah is said to have originated but when exactly is not clear. With tourists and travellers loving the taste of this authentic beverage just as there are tea stalls all over India, there are Kahwah stalls in Ladakh and Kashmir around every kerb and corner. Traditionally it is served after a Wazwan, the multi-course traditional Kashmiri meal. A shallow cup is how a family would serve it but on the streets of Leh and other towns in the Kashmir Valley, Kahwah is served in a normal tea glass.
The word Kahwah in the Kashmiri language means ‘sweetened tea’. It is also traditionally referred to as “Mughul tea”. Kangra region is where the green tea leaves come from. It is known to cleanse the stomach, help digestion and weight loss as well as improve metabolism.