From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, Indians enjoy a special craving for the traditional and authentic tea prepared from the innumerable tea plantations in India. The tea leaves impart a special favor and taste which is savory and delightful. Be it relaxing in the serenity of the mountains, adventuring in the wilderness of the forests or enjoying the sea waters, a cup of tea occupies a special place in almost all households in India. In this article we would be experiencing the essence of the famous Kashmiri Kahwa.
The Origin of Kashmiri Kahwa
Kahwa is not only popular in Kashmir but in several parts of the neighboring countries of Iran, Afghanistan, Middle East countries and the regions in Central Asia. It is said that the tea leaves originally arrived through the Spice Route. Some believe that it was first grown years back during the 1st or 2nd century AD.
The word “Kahwa” is a word of the local language spoken in Kashmir imparting the meaning of sweetened tea. Researches also prove that the word has similarity to kahveh or coffee from Turkey and qahwah from Arabia.
The Popularity of the Tea
Kahwa is quite popular in all parts of Kashmir. The local people serve the guests with the tea in all special and religious occasions. It is considered healthy due to its herbal essence. Offering Kahwa during any special dinner celebrations is considered customary and auspicious by the Kashmiris. The tea is served in small decorative cups, sometimes topped up with saffron for garnishing.
The teal leaves are mainly imported from the district of Kangra in Himachal Pradesh. In modern times, certain regions in Kashmir are flourishing with the tea plantations to meet the ever growing demands of tea consumption by the locals as well as the tourists. Tourists arriving at Kashmir consider consumption of Kahwa as interesting and delectable.
The Kashmiri Kahwa is prepared traditionally in Samovar, a copper kettle. The kettle is a traditional cookware which comprises of a container at the top resembling a tea pot and the bottom part with a hole in the center to keep the live charcoals. The charcoals help to keep the tea hot when served.
The samovar has space inside for the water to boil with the help of the live charcoals. The water must be first boiled with the spices and the saffron. The boiled water must be kept as it is for few minutes and then add the tea leaves to the mixture. If you want to add milk you can but that will not impart the original aroma of the tea leaves. The prepared tea is then sprained to serve in cups. You can add honey for the added sweet taste and few saffron strands.
For adding some elegance to the drink, many locals serve the tea with tiny pieces of cashews, pistachios, dried apricots, raisins, cherries, dates and almonds sprinkled from the top. The taste is soothing to the tongue and brings in a calm effect into the body with its rich fragrance.
The Health Factor of Kahwa
The green tea leaves used in Kahwa are immensely beneficial for the human body. They lower the risk of heart and respiratory diseases and chronic pulmonary ailments. It increases body immunity and acts as an anti-oxidant. Several health studies have proved that green tea leaves have the qualities to reduce obesity and thus a better healthy life.
The saffron used to boil the water is another important ingredient which possesses some impressive health benefits for the human body. Likewise green tea leaves, it also serves as an anti-oxidant thus reducing the changes of cold, cough and lung related diseases. It helps in overcoming lethargy and activates the body energy.
The benefits provided by the ingredients have substantially enhanced the popularity of Kahwa. The locals prefer to consume it after meals to aid in digestion and reduce chances of acidity. Drinking Kahwa often relieves you from stress and anxiety. People also drink Kahwa early in the morning before any meal to wash away toxins and increase the digestive capability of the body. It helps in purifying the body, ensuring a fresh mind and active brain throughout the day.
Where can you find the green tea leaves for Kahwa?
The green tea leaves were originally grown in Himachal Pradesh, parts of Pakistan and Yarkand Valley in Asia. Now the Kashmiris have started growing their own tea leaves for preparing Kahwa, many of which you can find on the hill slopes of Gulmarg. The tea estates are spreading slowly to supply the tea leaves for the ever demanding increase in Kahwa consumption.
It is recommended not to miss out a sip on the Kashmiri Khawa whenever you plan to visit the “Paradise on Earth”. Not only it will refresh you throughout the day but generate energy and vigor. Sitting on an early morning amid the scintillating mystic beauty of Kashmir with a brewing Kahwa topped with saffron strands sounds heavenly. And the moment the refreshing drink passes through your throat you will be relieved and rejuvenated. That’s the essence and beauty of the drink, loved and adored by many for its magical effect on the human body and mind. You must surely experience its magnificent flavor and taste.