'Gulabi Chai' is a Lakhnawi version of Kashmiri tea!
Lucknow is quite famous for having a plethora of Awadhi delicacies but one more thing in the city of nawabs is trending. What we are talking about is Gulabi Chai. Flavoured with saffron and kewra, this pink-coloured tea is something that not only lucknowites but other people also love sipping.
Gulabi chai is made up of the same green leaves those other teas are made up of but its taste is dramatically different. Originally a Kashmiri tea, Gulabi chai is its Lakhnawi version. Having this delightful drink in the morning builds energy and when garnished with almonds and pistachios, its taste becomes the best. A sweeter version of Kashmiri tea, this creamy pink-coloured tea has nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, saffron, and kewra and is much better than your regular tree.
But what makes it so different? Apart from having a blend of spices, this tea takes a lot of time to prepare. It starts when green tea leaves are boiled in water with baking soda for an hour or more. After the tea releases its dark colour, it is again boiled with bay leaf, cinnamon, saffron, cardamom, cloves and milk. Sugar and crushed almonds are also added to the boil.
It has many theories related to its origin and how it had its Lakhnawi version. The most believed theory is that when late Moti Lal Nehru, in the late 18th century, shifted to Prayagraj then Allahabad, he was accompanied by some Kashmiris. Those Kashmiris actually introduced this tea to Lakhnawis. Interestingly, only a few people make this authentic gulabi chai and some have even maintained the tradition of making it in a samovar. Usually served in kulhads, this tea is best known for its ‘Garam Taseer’.
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Wondering how this gulabi chai gets its pink colour? It is actually because of the addition of air that gives the tea its pink colour. When the tea water is beaten for 20 minutes and introduced to the air, it gets a beautiful and tempting colour. One of the places to have this gulabi chai is near Akbari Gate. As per one of the tea stall owners Mohammad Sabir, they serve over 500 teas in a single night during Ramzan. They also get a good demand in Winters as the tea has ‘Gram Taseer’ and is good for digestion. A layer of dry fruits and rabdi is often added to the top to enhance the flavour.
Let's see how can we make it at home