Sunday, March 28, 2010

You've got a pink kink in your think

This weekend we enjoyed a Saturday afternoon lunch on Chicago's famed Devon Avenue, which features several blocks of Indian restaurants and shops. After stuffing myself with chana masala and chai, we wandered into one of the food markets. In the tea aisle, I found a few interesting items, including ... pink tea?

It's a plastic jar of green tea leaves, labeled "Kashmiri Pink Tea." The pink part comes from a complicated preparation process, detailed on a poorly printed and folded piece of pink paper just under the lid. The recipe is basically a different take on chai using, of all things, baking soda.

I tried this out today, melding the pidgin English of the jar's instructions (which call for "backing powder") with some recipes found online (like this one, this one and mainly this one). I used two pots. In one, I boiled water and added the green tea, along with some crushed cardamom and a pinch of salt. After this boiled down a bit — and become a strong, dark green tea — I added half a teaspoon of baking soda, plus a half cup of cold water. The pot fizzed, and the tea went noticeably reddish. The power of chemistry. While that simmered a while longer, I heated milk, ground nuts and a cinnamon stick. In the end, both were strained and poured together (like the Malaysian teh tarik makers). The result: a strong chai, surprisingly smooth, with a bitter underpinning.

And, yes, it was kinda pink. (Some recipes include pink food coloring, which is just cheating.) But it's not something so delicious that I'll be going through all this rigamarole again. Unless you come over and ask for some pink tea.


  1. The very name of this tea would have drawn me right in, so thanks for going through the science experiment yourself so we won't have to!

  2. add a bit of rose syrup...for the pink...and lovely scnt..

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