Making Kashmiri Qahwa (Tea)

My mother-in-law swears by this tea. Our one-stop medical crop. What an Arab calls coffee, my sister's Moroccan family calls mint tea,...

My mother-in-law swears by this tea. Our one-stop medical crop. What an Arab calls coffee, my sister's Moroccan family calls mint tea, and my Kashmiri in-laws, Qahwa. It's beautiful.

Quickest Arabic lesson ever: Qahwa does colloquially translate as coffee in modern language, but depending on which country you're in, Qahwatun (it's a noun) is a misnomer for that culture's interpretation of "coffee". It could be a milky drink, an espresso, a tea, or a Chinese herbal drink. In Muslim history, Qahwa was once linked to wine, and coffee houses-scholars got involved but that's another topic.

In my family, it begins in the colder seasons, when we begin to sneeze, cough and explode with the flu virus.

Naturally, we take our very English treatments, your Lemsip and Sudafeds, but it's the traditional concoction of a Kashmiri Qahwa that hails the cure to our winter blues. After four years of drinking it, I must admit it is a potent medicine Masha-Allah (as God wills).

So how do we make this curious drink?

Makes 1 litre (4-5 standard mugs)* • Halal/Vegan • Total prep/cooking time 20mins • Convert to a decaffeinated version using decaf tea or removing the tea from the recipe completely

• 3 organic green tea bags or 3 heaped tablespoons of green tea leaves
• 2-3 standard tea bags or leaves (PG Tips, Earl Grey, Yorkshire Tea, up to you)
• 1 to 1.5 litres of freshly boiled water (note: repeat boiling reduces oxygen making a weaker tea)
• 1 fresh, peeled ginger stem, about a thumb's length, thinly sliced
• A large handful of fresh mint leaves (roughly 30g)
• 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
• 2-3 whole cinnamon sticks (roughly 2" long each, crush to small pieces)
• 1 level tablespoon cardamon pods/powder (crush pods slightly)
• 1 level tablespoon fennel seeds
• 1 level tablespoon Ajwain seeds
• 1 level tablespoon Timber* seeds
• 2-3 tablespoons of sugar (it's a drink, after all) or raw organic honey
• 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoonof table salt (use less if opting for raw flakes)

What are Timber seeds?
There's no internet information about these bug-eyed black seeds. But they're popular in herbal cooking, for chutneys and this tea. Grown and harvested similarly to peppercorns, timber seeds are inexpensive and have a tangy, peppery flavour; I bought mine from a Pakistani bazaar.

This is a one-step process: literally, pour all the ingredients into a large saucepan with the boiled water. Simmer for 15 minutes minimum to let all the spices infuse their properties and flavours and fragrances.

Tips: remove the teabags once infused, to prevent a bitter taste; use lemon zest or orange peel for additional benefits; the spices can last 2-3 days within diluting in flavour so add another few mugs of boiled water for extra brews.

Peace + eco-jihad.
Zaufishan, The Eco Muslim


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