Pakistanis imported tea worth USD 20,000,000 in the month of May 2013 alone. That’s right we spent USD 20 million on black tea in one month. I will not convert that into PKR.
Most of us do not but our addiction to tea is the legacy of British Raj. The Goras introduced us to tea not because they were concerned about our health. No Sir, what motivated them was pure financial greed.
China used to have a virtual monopoly on tea trade. Our White Lord & Masters used us as cheap labor and broke the Chinese tea monopoly. It did help a lot that we became addicted to the stuff and became one of the largest consumers of a drink that was virtually unknown before the 1800.
Originally introduced as a medicine (no kidding!), it took almost 100 years for tea to attain its current position as the household necessity. When we decided to separate from the Hindus in 1947, the migrants brought their love of tea to what is now Pakistan. Initially though, tea was not considered a drink fit for consumption. Lassi and sardai had the top notches secures in the arena. However, the rise of the middle class and their quest of becoming more English than the English brought tea to its preeminence in society.
Tea is one of the four crops represented on the official emblem of the State of Pakistan. This emblem has not changed since the separation of the Eastern Wing of the country.
The tea culture of Pakistan
Tea is Pakistan is known by Chai. Despite its popularity you will only find a handful of variations of the drink. This is mainly because of the rigidity of the customs and the severe intolerance to deviation from the beaten path.
Doodh Pati is the tea most popular in Punjab. The thick drink is not much popular in the Muhajir community who prefer the darker and bitter version of the drink. Doodh Pati is made by boiling tea with milk. Usually sugar is added in the beginning but the new trend is to add the sugar when serving the mixture. In tea houses across Pakistan, ordering Doodh Pati chai is considered a sign of generosity as it costs more than the ordinary tea.
This version is brought by the Muhajir from the southern parts of India. While the india do have a huge variety of Masala Chai, Pakistan has a limited versions available. One exception to the rule Kashmiri Chai that is available in various combinations depending upon the ingredients used.
Normal Chai is what you will get in most houses and offices. The process of making tea is very straightforward. Boil tea in water. Strain and add milk. Add sugar to taste.
Tibetan Style Tea
In the regions of Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan, you might find Tibetan style tea prepared with salt and butter.
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