Kashmir is well known for its beautiful landscapes, lakes and pleasant weather but besides that, it has a unique and vibrant culture, which has kept its society woven together. One such remnant of its culture is noon chai also known as sheer chai. This special salted tea is prepared in Kashmiri households twice a day when all the family members get together, first in the morning and then before dusk, to enjoy this unique tea.
As the salted tea is deep-rooted in the Kashmiri culture so is the vessel that is used to prepare this drink. The Kashmiris call this contraption a samovar. There are artisans in Kashmir who specialise in making this copper vessel. It takes an artisan five days to make a samovar, which could serve about 70 cups of tea.
This traditional copper flask has a fire pot in the centre and was introduced in the valley by the Persian Sufi saint Mir Syed Ali Hamadani also known locally as Shah Hamadan, which means the king of Hamadan (a place in Iran). He is also known as Amīr-iKabīr, which means the Great Commander.
For a tourist noon chai is a must-try, while a number of them also take a small replica of samovar with them as a souvenir from the valley of saints.