Tea pilgrimage: black salt

Santiniketan (or Shantiniketan - don't get me started on the vagaries of transliterating Bengali into the alphabet that brought you this message) is where Rabindranath Tagore spent most of the second half of his life. His artistic and philosophical legacy is enshrined there in a number of physical and institutional forms. The village is about two and a half hours from Calcutta by train, and it's a popular trip.
Traveling there is different from riding other trains in India. There are tourists from all over the world, lots of whom are young and footloose. There's live music from buskers of the Baul ethnic minority. Once the train gets under way, it's as if a party has begun.
There's tea on the train, but it's different, too. No milk tea on the Santiniketan Express, but a lemony infusion. What's really unusual about it is that it's dosed with a mineral known as black salt. I haven't found out exactly what black salt is, but I learned enough for my purposes about the tea made with it from the first sip. You'd probably enjoy it if you sincerely love rotten eggs. I found the sulfurous taste loathsome, and was glad that, as always, railroad tea was served in three-ounce cups.
Reply to
Lewis Perin

It is underground salt(That's I heard from a retailer when I was in Bangladesh). They put the rocks in a machine and crash them. I also enjoy my lemon tea with black salt sometimes. Where ever I go, I always carry black salt with me. It is really good with mango pickles, puri, samosa etc. etc. Also lot of fruit juice are mixed with black salt around South Asian countries.
Once you fallen love with black salt, you can never live without it. I am going to open my black salt jar now with some spicy mango pickles-:)
Ripon Maputo, Mozambique
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On 30 Mar 2005 18:41:27 -0800
It's got iron in it, and the iron has picked up sulfur ions - the same way a wrought iron railing picks up a sulfur smell when it's handled a lot.
Googling around, sounds like it ranges in color from pink to purple-gray. I guess that would depend on the relative concentrations of Fe2O3 (red iron oxide) and Fe3O4 (black iron oxide). Red iron oxide has that metallic flavor, black really doesn't. In any case the sulfur ions are going to overpower the iron oxide flavor.
fwiw, underground-mined salt doesn't always fit into the black salt category. There's a salt mine in southern utah cranking out stuff that's actually slightly sweet - though I'm not sure which of it's listed mineral components caused that. 98.32% sodium chloride with .4% calcium, .12% potassium, .11% sulphur, .1% magnesium, and traces of iron, phosphorous, iodine, manganese, copper, and zinc - just going by the label here.
Reply to
Eric Jorgensen

I make my share of curries and Indian breads. My shelves are stocked with pickled achars. Is this salt a brand or would any Indian salt meet the test?
Reply to
Space Cowboy

Dear Jim:
I didn't know that you like South Asian food. Well, in Bangla the salt calls "Bit Laban" or Bit noon". I don't know what meaning of bit, Laban- pronounce as Lobon or noon. I am sure you know some South Asian grocery store around your area. If any of those stores are ethnic Bangladeshi store, you will definitely get it as "Bit Lobon". If it is ethnic Indian store then try to say both. Let me know if you can find it or not.
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