Brewed in a beautiful shade of amber, Sulaimani chai (tea) is an ambrosial tea made without any milk and served with a refreshing dose of lemon.

You may often find some floating mint or basil leaves, infusing the tea with fresh herby flavours. In some cases, a sprinkle of ground cardamom and cinnamon may be added.

Either way, the concoction is admired by many, especially in South India. But only some fans of Sulaimani chai know the tale of how this tea got its name.

Sulaimani tea is believed to have Arab origins. It is said that Prophet Mohammed used to enjoy drinking a beverage called ghava with dates and black pepper (but no tea) added to it.

The beverage was brought to the Southern Malabar coast of India by Arab traders who were frequent visitors there.

The cultural intermingling that followed led to the addition of local spices and the replacement of dates with sugar. Somewhere along the line, tea was added to the drink.

It was also in Malabar that it started being called Sulaimani — in Arabic, the name Sulaiman translates to “man of peace”.

Interestingly, people looking for authentic Arabic ghava should head to Barkas, an area in Hyderabad’s old city known for its strong roots in Arab countries.

In winter, dozens of outlets and roadside stalls in and around Barkas offer piping hot ghava, priced anywhere between Rs 10 and Rs 20 per cup.

Today, Sulaimani chai is often served after heavy meals, such as biryani, in the Malabar region. The tea is served in tiny glasses, occasionally with a few strands of saffron.