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Kahwah (Urdu: قہوہ, also spelled qehwa, kehwa or kahwa) is a traditional green tea consumed in Afghanistan, northern Pakistan, some regions of Central Asia as well as the Kashmir Valley. In Pakistan, it is made in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan regions. It is a popular breakfast tea among Kashmiri's generally accompanied with special Kashmiri bakery items like girda. Kashmiri Pandit migrants living in the North Indian Plains, particularly in the urban agglomeration of Delhi, have also contributed to the tea's popularity among non-Kashmiris.
The Arabic word qahwah (قهوة) may have been the root for kahwah or kehwa. However, whereas qahwah is used for coffee beans, the BMC kehwa is a green aromatic tea.
Even though exact origins of kehwa are still unclear, most Kashmiris believe that the aromatic traditional drink kehwa dates back to times immemorial & has been a part of local consumption for ages. Certain sources also trace the origins of the drink to the Yarkand valley in Xinjiang Area (Areas of Kashmir & Xinjiang were part of the Kushan Empire during the 1st & 2nd century AD. It is likely that use of kehwa & its spread from one region to another was facilitated & popularised in these regions during the Kushan rule).Its also used in gujrat.
The tea is made by boiling green tea leaves with saffron strands, cinnamon bark and cardamom pods and occasionally Kashmiri roses to add a great aroma. Generally, it is served with sugar or honey, and crushed nuts, usually almonds or walnuts. Some varieties are made as a herbal infusion only, without the green tea leaves.
Traditionally, Kahwah or Kehwa is prepared in a brass kettle known as a samovar. A samovar consists of a "fire-container" running as a central cavity, in which live coals are placed keeping the tea perpetually hot. Around the fire-container there is a space for water to boil and the tealeaves and other ingredients are mixed with the water. Kehwa may also be made in normal pans and vessels, as modern day urban living may not always permit the use of elaborate samovars.
Kahwah is usually served to guests or as part of a celebration dinner, and Saffron (Kong) is added to the Kehwa for special visitors. It is often served in tiny, shallow cups. Kehwa in Kashmir is also commonly served after Wazwan and elaborate family dinners.
Sometimes milk is added to the kahwa, but this is generally given to the elderly or the sick.