Chai vs. Chai in Srinagar

Srinagar tourism’s most popular postcard picture is that of the lake and the houseboats on it. Like the rest of the valley, it too is an almost flawless view of paradise. As you’re doing the rounds of all the places to visit in Srinagar, you’ll notice that tea is everywhere; it is a way of life in the valley. And as you look closer, you will see the subtle differences in the way that it is prepared, the way that it is sipped, the ingredients used, even the utensils in which it is served. And you will understand that it is these little nuances that separate the two most distinct “tribes” of Kashmir, the Kashmiri Pundits and the Kashmiri Muslims.

The Types

There are two distinct types of chai preferred in these parts of the world:

Noon Chai

Noon Chai Kashmir


Noon chai, also Sheer chai or Pink tea, is named after the Kashmiri word for salt, noon. It is salted like butter tea, but not as thick and definitely lighter. Sheer means milk so obviously, this one has milk in it. Sheer chai originated in Kashmir. Tea, pepper, cinnamon, cardamom and almonds are the primary ingredients; more can be added or removed to taste. A pinch of baking soda is added to give it its distinct pink colour.



Kahwa Tea


Kashmiri Kahwa, as it is now popular, did not actually originate in the valley. It came here from Turkey through the Silk Route, long before the British got us addicted. Kahwa has no milk; just tea, almonds, cinnamon, cardamom and sugar or honey. You can add pretty much any flavor to it like apricots, apples or dates. The tea leaves are usually the green, untreated variety.


Tea is prepared in a special vessel called Samovar, quite similar to the Russian Samovar. It is a pot in which tea is made by burning charcoal in the small chimney at its centre, having a seive at the bottom. The ash is collected in the space below the seive. There is a nozzled outlet for pouring the tea, hot into the cup.

So how does one figure out the differences between the Pundits and the Muslims?

Firstly, the Hindus prefer Kahwa while Noon chai is more popular with the Muslims.

The Hindus drink their tea in a bronze cup called Khos, while the Muslims prefer Chinpyalas, cups made from Chinese clay.

The Hindu Samovars are made of brass while the Muslims use Samovars that are made from copper.

Hindus eat their food in a Thal, which earlier used to be made out of bronze. Muslims prefer copper bowls (with tin lining). At feasts, Muslims are served four persons in one big copper plate called Traami, while the Hindus eat individually.

Go shopping in Srinagar’s local bazaars where you try both types of chai in all variations and the pick your own set of Chai utensils!

As the newest member of the content team, Shivangi Rajendran comes from the world of professional dancing. With a passion for travel and a flair for writing, the Masters in Mass Communication is just an added advantage. A gypsy at heart, she doesn’t believe in planning and is always ready to pack her bags and leave.

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  • 13 November, 2013 @ 6:34 [Current Revision] by Shivangi Rajendran
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  • How To Tech Guru

    Need to try this when I go there. Thanks very much for this info.

    • Shivangi Rajendran

      Oh you definitely need to and do lemme know how you liked it !

  • My Say! India.

    this is one amazing post Shivangi !! I used to consider British responsible for Tea in India :)

    • Shivangi Rajendran

      Thank you !