Kulhad or Kulhar – The Eco-Friendly and Traditional Cup

In India, tea and coffee have always been an integral part of our culture. And when it comes to serving these hot beverages, Kulhad has been the traditional choice for generations.

Kulhad has an aesthetic appeal that is unmatched by other cups. Its rustic and traditional look adds to the overall experience of enjoying a hot beverage.

Kulhad, also known as Kulhar or Kulhad, is a small, handmade cup made from clay or mud. Not only is it a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to plastic and paper cups, but it also has cultural significance.

History and Cultural Significance of Kulhad

Origins of Kulhad

The origins of Kulhad can be traced back to ancient times when it was used to serve hot beverages in the Indian subcontinent. It is believed that the Mughals brought the tradition of using Kulhad to India.

Role of Kulhad in Indian Culture

Kulhad has always been an important part of Indian culture. It is commonly used to serve Tea, and coffee in local tea stalls and dhabas (roadside restaurants). It is also used during festivals and events.

Significance of Using Kulhad

Apart from its cultural significance, Kulhad has many other benefits. It is a biodegradable and compostable alternative to plastic and paper cups. The use of Kulhad also helps in reducing the carbon footprint.

The use of Kulhad has many health benefits. Clay has a cooling effect on the body, which can help in regulating body temperature. Adds taste and essential minerals present in the soil to the food or drinks consumed using Kulhad.

Additionally, the use of Kulhad does not release harmful chemicals or toxins, which is often the case with plastic cups.

Enhancing Taste and Fragrance

One unique feature of Kulhad is that, since it is unglazed, a hot drink such as tea partially soaks into the interior wall of the Kulhad in which it is being served.

This has an enhancing effect on the beverage’s taste and fragrance, which is sometimes described as “earthy” (सौंधी ख़ुशबू, sondhi khushboo). Higher-end restaurants often serve “kulhar-waali chai” (tea in Kulhars) to their customers for this very reason.

Uses of Kulhad

  • Serving Tea and Coffee: Kulhad is commonly used to serve tea and coffee in local tea stalls and dhabas. The hot beverage is poured into the Kulhad, which helps retain its temperature and flavor.
  • Serving Lassi and Other Beverages: Apart from tea and coffee, Kulhad is also used to serve lassi and other beverages. The use of Kulhad enhances the taste of the drink and adds to the overall experience.
  • Use in Festivals and Events: Kulhad is often used during festivals and events to serve hot beverages. The use of Kulhad adds to the traditional and festive feel of the event.

Discontinuation of Kulhads

While Kulhads have been a beloved tradition, they have faced challenges in recent times. The practice of making Kulhads on a large scale to serve tea passengers in trains, while culturally significant, raised environmental concerns.

The clay used to make Kulhads is fertile soil, and the mass production of Kulhads was contributing to soil erosion and degradation.

As a result, there has been a discontinuation of Kulhads in certain contexts to protect the environment. The shift away from Kulhads was also driven by cost and efficiency reasons, with synthetic cups becoming more prevalent.

However, it’s important to note that Kulhads are made of biodegradable soil, and their use was initially intended to replace plastic cups, which are non-biodegradable and harmful to the environment.

In conclusion, Kulhad remains a symbol of sustainability and cultural heritage. While it has faced challenges and changes in its usage, its eco-friendly nature and unique contribution to the taste and fragrance of beverages make it an enduring choice.

With the growing awareness about sustainability, the use of Kulhad is expected to evolve, ensuring its place not only in Indian culture but also in efforts to protect our environment.

So, the next time you enjoy a hot beverage, consider using a Kulhad to enhance the experience while also contributing towards a sustainable future.


  • Shivam Singh

    Greetings, I'm the founding editor of Mithila Today. Writing is my lifelong passion, and I'm dedicated to creating content that educates and inspires. My goal is to foster understanding and dialogue through storytelling, providing a platform for meaningful discourse. Together, let's connect, inform, and inspire change in our society. Best regards, Shivam Singh

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