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  • Writer's pictureFolkloristan


Updated: May 11, 2023


Chaye has a long and fascinating history that stretches back centuries. Its origin is thought to be in China, where it was first cultivated and consumed for its medicinal properties. The word "tea" comes from the Chinese word "te," which means "bitter." Over time, the beverage spread to neighboring regions, including Pakistan and South Asia, where it has become an integral part of the culture.

The history of chaye in Pakistan can be traced back to the early 1800s when the British East India Company began to import large quantities of tea from China. The popularity of tea soon spread, and it became a staple beverage for both the British and the local population. Today, Pakistan is one of the world's largest tea consumers, and chaye is ubiquitous in daily life.

Popular types of Kehwa (Green Tea) and Chaye (Black Tea) in Pakistan

Kashmiri Kehwa: It is made from a special green tea variety grown in the Kashmir region and is sweetened with honey or sugar and flavored with cardamom and cinnamon. Saffron strands, cloves, and rose petals are also added and served with some chopped almonds, raisins, or walnuts. This tea is believed to have a warming effect on the body, making it popular in the cold mountainous region.

Peshawari Kehwa: Peshawari Kehwa is a traditional Pashtun tea made by boiling green tea leaves with cardamom, cinnamon, and sugar. It is often served to guests and consumed during religious events and ceremonies.

Gulabi Kehwa: Gulabi Kehwa is a fragrant and sweet pink tea made with green tea, rose petals, and a variety of spices, including cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. This tea is often served with biscuits or Kashmiri bread and is considered a delicacy in the region.

Noon Chai: Noon Chai, also known as Sheer Chai, is a traditional pink tea consumed in Kashmir. It is made by boiling tea leaves with baking soda, salt, and milk, giving it a unique pink color. The tea is usually served with a Kashmiri bread called Kulcha or a sweet bread called Kandir tchot.

Karak Chai: A tea made by brewing black tea powder with sugar and milk, left to simmer for a few minutes after boiling, making it distinctly strong.

Masala Chai: A black tea brewed with spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. It is often sweetened with sugar and mixed with milk.

Irani Chai: A type of tea from the Iranian tradition, which is brewed with a mixture of tea leaves, spices, and milk.

Sulaimani Chai: A black tea with lemon and honey, often served as a digestive after a meal.

Lemon Chai: A black tea brewed with lemon and honey, often enjoyed as a refreshing drink during hot weather.

Adrak Chai: A black tea brewed with ginger, believed to have health benefits,, is often served with a dash of honey.

Tulsi Chai: A black tea infused with holy basil, or tulsi, believed to have medicinal properties and is often consumed for its health benefits.

Culturally, chaye has become an important part of hospitality in South Asia. It is often served to guests as a sign of welcome and respect. The process of making and serving tea is also steeped in tradition and ritual. For example, in Pakistan, the tea is often served in small glasses, and the act of pouring it is accompanied by a distinctive "chaa-cha" sound that is thought to enhance the flavor and aroma of the tea.

There are also many local superstitions and beliefs associated with chaye. In some areas of Pakistan, drinking tea before going on a long journey is believed to bring good luck and ensure a safe trip. Similarly, in some cultures, it is thought that the color of the tea can predict the future. If the tea is dark, it is believed that good news is on the way, while light-colored tea indicates bad news.

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