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Around the World in Tea: Kahwah in Afghanistan

This month’s ‘Around the World in Tea’ is a homage to my roots and an ode to a tea that I’ve been drinking since I was a young girl. Kahwah is a traditional green tea preparation consumed in Afghanistan, northern Pakistan, some regions of Central Asia and the Kashmir Valley. In Pakistan it is made in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region, both of my parents were born there.

Tea Shop in Peshawar, Pakistan

The times that I have visited my parents’ home town in Pakistan, tea has played a pivotal role and kahwah was generally served in the afternoon as a refreshing alternative to chai and often after dinner to aid digestion! My parents have continued this custom when they have guests and tend to also serve kahwah after dinner. Kahwah is normally served in small handle-less bowls, much like the Chinese tea bowl with ghur; a lump sugar made from sugar cane. I find it to be a light and aromatic tea that is subtle in flavours.

In London, a number of Afghan restaurants have been popping up and becoming increasingly popular over the last few years. One which I like to go to is Charsi Tikka in Forest Gate the kahwah there is splendid!


How to make Kahwah

Serves 4


4 cups of Water

1 tsp Green tea leaves

3 crushed Green cardamoms

1 tsp of dried lemongrass (optional)

Sugar to taste or ghur


Step 1. Pour water in a vessel.

Step 2. Add crushed green tea leaves, cardamons and lemongrass

Step 3. Bring to boil. As soon as it boils, add sugar to taste. (If using ghur omit the sugar)

Step 4. Cover and boil for a few minutes.

Step 5. Remove from the flame and pour into small bowls.

I hope you enjoy this light and lovely tea folks, in 2014 I plan to develop an ‘Afghan’ inspired tea party.

I thought I’d end this post with a really interesting quote from Greg Mortenson’s book, ‘Three Cups of Tea’ that summarises tea and hospitality in both Afghanistan and northern Pakistan:

‘Here we drink three cups of tea to do business; the first you are a stranger, the second you become a friend, and the third, you join our family, and for our family we are prepared to do anything – even die’ – Haji Ali, Korphe Village Chief, Karakoram mountains, Pakistan.