How Samahan Became a Global Sensation

Fans of the Sri Lankan herbal drink, from Naomi Campbell to Amitabh Bachchan, swear it cures everything from a cold to a cough. Does it?

GettyImages-1913162482 samahan
Sri Lankan workers at the Link Natural factory sort through sachets of Samahan in Dompe on December 29, 2010 (AFP PHOTO/Ishara S. KODIKARA via Getty Images)

Mallika Basu


April 4, 2024


10 min

When supermodel Naomi Campbell divulged the essential items in her Fendi handbag to Vogue last year, it contained iPods, lavender oil, mints, and a hydrating mist. But among the coveted goods, she also pulled out a golden sachet, a “good tea for your immune system”: Samahan. The herbal drink purportedly soothes everything from colds to sore throats and has global fans, from Campbell to Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, who brought a cup out for a coughing audience member on his game show, Kaun Banega Crorepati.

In just under three decades, Samahan has become a cult favorite, with people taking a sachet at the faintest hints of illness. In a world teeming with natural remedies, how did this one concoction become so popular?

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