Kehwa Khana–The green tea culture of Khyber PakhtoonKhwa

No matter who you are, no matter where you are, if you are in Khyber Pakhtoon Khwa you are bound to stumble upon a kehwa khana or the the green tea bar sooner than you can even imagine.

Green tea enjoys a very important position in KPK. It is served in every household, rich or poor, irrespective of the status of its residents. But somehow men can’t get enough of it at home it appears, for the number of the kehwa khana is always on the rise. Kehwa khana is not only a place to drink green tea; it is a place where men sit and talk for hours at a stretch while continuously emptying cup after cup of the fragrant, hot, sweet green tea. It is the place where the tired workers take a break during their day, a place where friends chat, a place where elders sit together to solve a dispute. That is why kehwa khana has such significance in their culture. The surprising thing is that though it plays a remarkable role in the lives of the people of KPK, yet it is in no sense fancy. The kehwa khana may comprise of only a few wooden cots(Charpoi) and a make shift shade on top. Some kehwa khanas are well built and modern to certain extent, but the charpoi has to be there for sitting purposes. Come to think of it, it is very efficient as a resting place, for the tired workers are often found napping on the charpoi after a hot kehwa drink.

The hero of the play is ofcourse the Green Tea. Every green tea bar boasts of its special tea leaves mix which is obviously kept a secret from the competitors. The secret of great green tea is to let the water simmer for a long long time. The green tea leaves are first given a slight rinse with some hot water and then put in the water along with sugar. Just before putting the tea in the kettle, freshly ground green cardamom are added to give the tea a wonderful aroma. The tea is then served in special green tea cups.Before dinner, after dinner, during break, anytime is kehwa time.

Over the years some variations have also evolved. Some people like to drink unsweetened kehwa along a lump of brown sugar(gur). Some use certain masala mix in their tea for additional taste. It is used for medicinal purposes as well. Certain herbs added can cure nausea or even common cold. Green Tea really has lots of roles to play and in each it shines the best.