Unusual Malaysian Drinks You Want To Try
When you visit Malaysia, we will be surprised by the variety of refreshing, unusual Malaysian Drinks and juices apart from the local Coffee and Tea.
Aside from the fizzy drinks and sodas, Malaysian Food Courts and Hawker Centers are well organized with a central location to buy a cold or hot drink.
Chinese Kopitiam (Coffeeshop), Warung (Malay food stalls), and Mamak (Indian Muslim food outlets) are places to get inexpensive Malaysian Drinks.
As Malaysians, we take for granted the variety of our special Malaysian Drinks that leaves visitors the eye-catching names and colors of the unique local Malaysian drinks.
Most local juices cost between MYR2 to MYR5, about fifty cents to USD1.20.
For a visitor, the diverse Malaysian community offers a wide variety of drinks. You can find these at these local hangouts.
- Food Court
- Food vendors
- Food Trucks
As a local, some of the Malaysian beverages are still a mystery to me.
Some names of the drinks arouse your curiosity and are intriguing.
The history behind many of the food and beverages origins is undoubtedly fascinating.
As a Malaysian, I will add other lists that will have you clamoring for more tasty treats!
Before that, here’s how to order the local drinks from hawkers’ stalls without a recognizable menu and with your lack of local language skills.
Is there something that you can order in English that doesn’t need any translation?
Ice lemon tea – Ice lemon tea!
If you go to the (Warung) local stalls, the top drinks ordered are not Coffee but a hot milky tea.
The Malaysian drinks are uniquely creative, like Malaysian cuisine.
Some drinks are made with abundant Southeast Asia exotic fruits, herbs, nuts, and grains with many health benefits.
You can request for the drinks to be unsweetened (check with the vendor).
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How to Order Malaysian Drinks in a Kopitiam or Warung?
If you would like to order a Coffee or Tea in Malaysia, here’s the code.
- O – Coffee or Tea + sugar
- C – Coffee or Tea + evaporated milk
- Kopi or Teh – Coffee or Tea + condensed milk
The variations of:
- Peng – With Ice
- Pok – Lighter in taste
- Kaw – Stronger in taste
National Malaysian Drinks – Top is Teh Tarik
Malaysia’s cuppa is a hot, pulled frothy Milk Tea drink and not Coffee.
The simple ingredients are black tea, condensed milk, and sugar.
We attribute the robust flavor to the use of tea dust (instead of leaves).
Teh Tarik’s preparation and the art of ‘pulling tea,’ hot and freshly make it Malaysia’s national drink.
We serve Teh Tarik at Roti Canai stalls.
If you head to a Warung, a Mamak stall, or any Kopitiam (Coffee shop), you will find patrons sipping on steamy mugs of thick, rich, and foamy hot Teh Tarik.
Every Malaysian, regardless of race or ethnicity, love came to enjoy a tea break.
Take a sip of the sweet, earthy, and soothing beverage, and you will taste Malaysia.
We often find Teh Tarik in Mamak shops, and Warung rather than Chinese Kopitam.
A good cup of Teh Tarik should have just the right amount of sweetness and about one inch of foam.
Indians prefer a sweeter Teh Tarik compared to the Chinese.
They serve Teh Tarik in glass mugs in Mamaks and teacups with saucers in the Kopitiam.
Teh Tarik is most commonly drunk during breakfast and supper time, with a meal of Roti Canai and Dahl curry.
You can order an iced variation, simply named Teh Ais (Iced Milk Tea)
Remember to tell the Mamak to make it ‘Kurang Manis’ (koo-rang ma-is) if you don’t fancy a sweet beverage.
The art of ‘pulling tea’ is regarded as a fantastic display of showmanship.
Malaysia often holds Teh Tarik competitions for stylistic skills, and competitors always put on an acrobatic show.
Teh Tarik (Pulled Milk Tea)
Malaysia’s national drink, Teh Tarik, is an iconic drink made from a combination of black tea, sugar, and condensed milk.
However, Teh Tarik is more than just your usual milk tea!
Teh Tarik is Malaysia’s Beloved National Drink.
Teh Tarik means “pulled tea,” and this creamy-frothy goodness is prepared by having the mixture “pulled” or poured back and forth through the air between two cups.
In some places, you can even watch how they make it!
So, if you want some entertainment or just plain goodness in your drink, try Teh Tarik and see why Malaysians from all walks of life love this drink.
Teh – Milk Tea (condensed milk)
Teh C – Milk Tea (evaporated milk + sugar)
Teh C Kosong – Milk Tea (evaporated milk, no sugar)
Teh C Peng – Iced Milk Tea (evaporated milk, no sugar)
Teh Halia – Ginger Tea
Teh Kurang Manis – Milk Tea with less sugar
Teh Limau – Tea with Calamansi
Teh O – Tea without Milk
Teh O Kosong – Tea without Milk or sugar.
Teh Peng – Milk Tea with ice.
Teh Tarik – Hot Malaysian Pulled Milk Tea with a foamy top
Teh Tarik Madu (East Coast) – Hot Malaysian Pulled Tea with Honey and a Super frothy top
Teh O Ais *Limau – Tea with Calamansi without Milk
*In Malaysia, Calamansi (Calamondin/kalamansi) citrus with fresh, plump, and juicy fruits that look like limes are used instead of lemons for flavoring food and drinks.
Teh O Ais *Limau Peng – Iced Calamansi Tea
A definite thirst quencher for those who turn away from sweeter milky beverages, the “Iced Calamansi Tea” is prepared by mixing iced tea with freshly squeezed lime.
You can ask for “Kosong” if you want to omit the sugar completely.
Three Layer Tea – Teh C Peng (Sarawak)
The secret of making a distinctive tasting glass of Teh C Ping is using loose leaf teas instead of instant ones – that and a generous amount of creamy evaporated milk.
The ice-cold drink Teh C Peng is also called Three Layer Teh due to the different layers of the tea show in a tall transparent glass.
The bottom layer is liquid palm sugar, the middle is condensed milk, and they finished it off with a top layer of strong black tea.
One would give it a good mix before enjoying the drink.
Malaysian Kopi (Local Coffee)
In Malaysia, words like “latte,” “cappuccino,” and “espresso” are easily heard in the city. It comes as no surprise that the country’s cities overflow with cafe culture.
In the local Kopitiam, Warung, and Street Stalls, you can find local coffees called “Kopi” for a fraction of the cost in cafes.
Kopi – Local Coffee with condensed milk
Kopi C – Coffee with “C” ream/ideal dairy and sugar
Kopi C – Coffee with evaporated milk and sugar.
Kopi C Kosong – Coffee with cream without sugar (Kosong-empty, which in this context meant, no sugar)
Kopi Cham – Coffee with Tea and Milk
Kopi C-Kosong – Coffee with evaporated milk but no sugar. The “Kosong” means “nothing” in Malay.
Kopi Ka Dai
Kopi O – Black Coffee with sugar. The “O” meant no milk
Kopi O Kosong – Black Coffee without sugar.
Kopi Peng (iced Coffee with condensed milk)
Kopi – Coffee with condensed milk.
Kopi Kaw – Strong brewed Coffee with condensed milk. “Kaw” means “rich” in Hokkien.
Kopi O Kosong Kaw – Strong brewed Coffee without sugar or milk.
Kopi Peng – Coffee with milk, sugar, and ice.
Kopi Poh – Weak brewed Coffee with condensed milk. The “poh” means “diluted” in Hokkien.
Kopi Butter (Coffee with Butter)
Bulletproof Coffee may be the new high-calorie coffee drink intended to replace breakfast.
However, a local Kopitiam, Bee Ghah Kopitiam in Teluk Kumbar, Penang, serves Kopi Butter for more than 90 years.
So, if you are a coffee lover, drinking a glass of cold coffee is good for you.
Iced Coffee helps you cool your body.
White Coffee or Pak Ko Pi (Hokkien)
White Coffee is a type of Coffee that originates from Ipoh, ranked among the top three coffee towns in Asia by Lonely Planet.
On the other hand, White Coffee is roasted with margarine, without sugar, which gives the Coffee a lighter color.
The taste of the White Coffee is thick and aromatic.
Whenever you happen to be in Ipoh, be sure to try the Pak Ko Pi.
Malaysian Milo Culture
Nestle introduced Milo in Malaysia in 1950 as a tonic food drink.
While its primary target customers are to keep athletes energized, this well-loved chocolate drink can be found everywhere in Malaysia to Kopitiam, Mamak stalls, and even McDonald’s!
Iced Milo is the drink of choice for those who don’t like Coffee or Tea.
The three variants of Iced Milo have made it to the top order list of Malaysians.
Milo Ais / Milo Dinosaur / Milo Godzilla
Milo – Chocolate drinks, pronounced as “mee low.”
Milo Ais – Iced Milo
Milo Dinosaur – An excessive amount of undissolved Milo powder on top.
Milo Godzilla – A ‘Milo Dinosaur’ with a scoop of ice cream and strawberry sauce on top and served in a 3/4 pint tumbler.
Milo King Kong – ‘Milo Godzilla’ with a double scoop of ice cream, whipped cream, plus chocolate and strawberry sauce and a liberal scattering of Milo!
Milo Tabur (Milo drink topped with Milo powder)
Nescafe Instant Coffee is a favorite local brand, and Malaysians not only have their favorite Nescafe cuppa but beverages that combine Nescafe and Milo – NESLO.
Neslo Ais – Iced Nescafe Coffee with Cocoa Powder
This cold drink mixture of Nescafé and Milo (similar to Nesquik chocolate mix for American) tastes like a watered-down iced mocha.
Malaysian Herbal Drinks
Ginger, Lemongrass, Sugar cane, and Water Chestnut are used liberally for Malaysian cuisine and are boiled as herbal drinks.
Air Halia (Hot Ginger Drink)
Air Halia helps soothe the tummy and rid of the wind.
Usually sold by Indian Muslim vendors, they drink with old ginger, herbs, and brown sugar.
Air Serai (Lemongrass Drink)
Just like Air Halia, the Lemongrass Drink has healing properties of expelling wind and passing motion.
Ais Tingkap (Window Sherbet) – Penang
Ais Tingkap is a one of its kind, unique only to Penang, and you can’t find it anywhere else in Malaysia.
Although Sharbat originates from the Middle East, the drink combines 25 types of herbs – basil seeds, rose water, fresh rose petals, sandalwood, bael, hibiscus, lemon, orange, mango, pineapple, falsa (Grewia asiatica), and chia seeds.
Locals gave the catchy name Ais Tingkap as they initially sold it over a glass window when it first started in the 1930s.
Malaysian Medicated Herbal Tea or Liang Cha (Cantonese)
There are a few types of Chinese Medicated Herbal Tea sold in Malaysia.
Some teas are made from flowers and others from various dried leaves and stems, producing a dark, hideous-looking brew.
There are various types of Liang Cha for ailments relating to heaty symptoms such as mouth ulcers, a sore throat, cough with sticky phlegm, or chapped lips.
Herbal Chrysanthemum Tea
Commonly found at the Chinese Dim Sum restaurants, the dried Chrysanthemum flowers seep in a pot with hot water.
The tea has a flowery and refreshing taste.
The Chinese community believes the Chrysanthemum Tea help replenishes your energy throughout the day without the spikes and jitters from Coffee.
Medicated Herbal Tea (Chinese)
Chinese herbal medicated tea is a herbal mixture made with 15 natural herbs.
Malaysians drink this slightly bitter dark herbal drink when they feel feverish or heat.
They also take the drink when it was too hot or overtaxed by rich, spicy food and curries.
Malaysian Drinks From The Chinese Community
Leng Chee Kang
Leng Chee Kang is a healthy dessert drink made famous by the Chinese community in Malaysia.
Believed to have a cooling effect on the body, Leng Chee Kang can be served warm or cold during hot and humid days.
The key ingredients are lotus seeds, longans, dried persimmons, and Malva nuts, and
Scaphium affine (Kembang semangkuk).
Other versions of Leng Chee Kang may contain nuts, grains, quail eggs, collagen, grass jelly, and basil seeds.
Kit Chai Ping or Calamansi Lime (Sabah)
The ‘national drink’ of Sabah is the Kit Chai Ping.
Sabahans love the refreshing ingredients used to make this drink – Kalamansi limes, sugar syrup, water, and the Chinese salted sour plums, which the locals call Ham Moi.
Most restaurants and cafes in Sabah have this drink on the menu.
When you order, say “kurang manis” if you don’t like your drinks too sweet.
Leong Fun (Cincau) or Grass Jelly Drink
Leong Fun is made from boiling the leaves of a plant and cooling them into a jelly form.
IT is dark and has slightly bitter and herbal balanced by a sugary syrup to make a cooling drink to deal with the tropical heat.
Malaysian Dessert Drinks
While Cendol and ABC (Air Batu Campur) you are not drinking from a glass or mug – Malaysians love these dessert drinks as thirst quenchers in the humid climate of Malaysia.
On a hot, scorching day, you will see a queue around the block for these two desserts in the city.
Everyone stays hydrated, and dessert drinks are best for a bit of snack stop as you explore the area.
Malaysians would queue up in the hot weather to grab a bowl of Cendol.
In Penang, Melaka, and Taiping, a basic bowl of Cendol has a mountain of shaved ice, green jelly noodles and is drizzled with palm sugar syrup and Santan.
Additional toppings can be requested, such as sticky rice, durians, or red beans.
Ais Kacang or Air Batu Campur (ABC)
Malaysians have their version of ‘mixed ice’ called Ais Kacang in the north and Air Batu Campur (ABC) in other parts of the country.
A basic bowl has shaved ice, and red beans finished with a rose or sarsaparilla syrup as the topping.
Nowadays, ABC has many toppings not limited to palm seeds, sweet corn, grass jelly, tinned fruits,
finished with ice cream, and sweetened condensed or evaporated milk.
Malaysians use these best body cooling drinks to beat the heatiness when the weather gets too hot.
These are ways to stay hydrated and add to your dietary regime and stay fresh and healthy!
Malaysian Drinks – Air Buah or Fruit Juice
Malaysian local fruit makes some of the best thirst quenchers when the weather is hot.
Served with ice, the fruit juice has sugar added to sweeten it and lime juice to lighten it.
• Sugar Cane
Coconut Water, Air Kelapa Bakar (Burnt Coconut), Coconut Shake
Coconut Water is refreshing and a natural coolant.
Coconut Water contains essential nutrients required by our body, which can help you fight the summer heat and reduces body heat.
Burned Coconut is fresh young coconuts roasted whole inside a hearth for up to hours until the coconut water inside has boiled.
Those who love the taste of Air Kelapa Bakar swear by its medicinal properties.
Malaysians say that after the roasting, the coconut has softer coconut flesh, the consistency of jelly.
Air Kelapa Bakar is often sold at roadside stalls, mainly in Sabah and on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
Coconut Shake is a delicious smoothie made from Coconut Water, Coconut Flesh, and Vanilla Ice Cream.
Nutmeg trees were cultivated in Penang in the late 18th century by the British to expand the spice trade business.
“White” nutmeg juice is light green-yellowish, tangy, and almost grassy in taste, and it’s often flavored with Chinese sour plums.
The juice is also boiled to a syrup and used in a much sweeter, brownish iced drink.
Iced Nutmeg juice is a usual and delightful juice Malaysian drinks light, fruity, and very refreshing.
Striking Dragon Fruit & Lemon Juice
Dragon fruits are nutritionally dense, and lemon juice is good is vision health. Don’t miss this delicious juice, and don’t forget to try dragon fruit as a fruit.
Malaysian Fruit Juice with Sui Boi (Hokkien)
Salted Dried Plum from China (Asam boi in Malay) is very popular in Malaysia.
The addition of the sour and salty taste to sweet fruit juice makes the drink delicious.
Ambra (Ambarella) or Buah Kedondong & Asam Boi (Malay)
In Penang, Ambarella is known as Ambra or Buah Kedondong among Malays.
The fruit is green and hard, with an oval shape about the size of a lemon.
In Malaysia, the Ambra is cut up into pieces and used in Penang Rojak, a distinctive mixed fruits salad.
Locals use the Ambra juice for treating throat and cough infections.
Ambra juice mixed with sour plum (Asam boi in Malay) is a refreshing juice that is easy to drink.
Sui Kam Sui Boey (Lime Juice & Asam Boi)
Malaysian Kalamansi is small lime that packs a punch and makes a potent drink.
To enhance the flavors, a Sour Plum balances the tart and slightly bitter flavors from its skin.
Sui Kam Sui Boey is the ultimate treat for Vitamin C in a sour and salty drink.
Sui Boi peng – plum juice, nifty for hot days
Sui Kam peng – local fresh lime, to die for!
Apple Juice with & Asam Boi
The Asam Boi not only prevents Apple Juice from oxidizing, but it also tastes delicious with apple or lime juice.
Malaysian Fruit Smoothies
You can order Fruit Smoothies from any café, restaurant, or food court.
The blend of fruits depends on the shop or vendor.
You can choose your favorite local fruits at home and blitz away with yogurt with some ice cubes.
Malaysian Drinks Made with Grains or Dried Fruit
In Malaysia, the locals boil Barley (Hordeum vulgare) to make Barley Water.
The simple drink has floating Barley pearls and is served either hot or with iced.
Barley water has cooling properties that cleanse the kidneys and keep you free of toxins.
Widely available at hawker stalls, food courts, coffee shops – some enjoy Barley Water
and lime juice combinations.
Soya Bean Milk or Soya Milk
Soy Milk is a plant-based drink produced by soaking and grinding soybeans, boiling the mixture, and filtering out particles for a milky beverage.
Often sold at street stalls, Soya Milk is sweetened with either sugar syrup or palm syrup.
Hen Gin Teh (Almond Drink)
Chinese Almond Drink is not too sweet with a creamy texture. They usually serve it in a bowl and with Chinese Curlers.
Malaysian Drinks – Indian Beverages
There are certain drinks that you can get from Indian restaurants only. These are, without a doubt, excellent drinks you can order from Indian Restaurants.
Triveni Juice (Mixed Fruit Juice)
One of the freshest cooling concoctions is the Triveni Juice.
They made the sweet, refreshing drink of a mixture of fresh pineapple, mango, and sweet lime.
Lassi, Sweet Lassi, Salted Sweet Lassi, Mango Lassi
Lassi combines yogurt and a sweetener.
There are many combinations of this smoothie, with Mango Lassi as a crowd favorite.
The Mango Lassi is sweet and tastes like milkshakes.
On a hot day, a glass of lassi keeps your body relaxed, refreshed, and hydrated for longer hours.
Indian Masala Coffee
Indian Masala Coffee is a flavourful, rich, creamy, and frothy coffee, an amalgamation of spices (masala) and Coffee.
Bru Coffee – Coffee with Fresh Cow’s Milk
Bru Coffee comes in a few different varieties.
It is famous for its blend of 70% Coffee and 30% Chicory. You can request either Nescafe or bru coffee made with fresh cow’s milk instead of condensed milk from Indian restaurants.
The beverage is milkier and far less sweet than the usual serving.
Masala Tea or Masala Chai
Masala Chai is a tea beverage made by boiling black tea in milk and water with a mixture of aromatic herbs and spices.
Originating in India, the beverage has gained worldwide popularity, becoming a feature in many coffee and tea houses.
Badam Milk or Amygdalate (Almond Drink)
The Indian Almond Milk Drink is very different from the bottled Almond Milk or the powdered ones served by Chinese hawkers.
The Badam Milk is a Spiced Almond Beverage flavored delicately with cardamom, optional kewra essence, and nuts to make a refreshing beverage.
The drink is not only tasty but packs a mighty nutritious punch from the nuts.
Malaysian Drinks Malay Community
The Malay community has a sweet tooth and likes fanciful, colorful drinks.
Sirap Bandung (rose cordial with condensed milk)
Sirap Bandung is a mixture of milk and rose syrup that is always a must during Ramadan.
This must-try beverage with a unique bright pink shade and milky taste is often mistaken for strawberry-flavored milk in Malaysia.
One recipe incorporates soda water for a fizzy version, where soda water is used for mixing instead of normal water.
Another adds Cincau (Grass Jelly) for texture.
It is readily available at Mamak stalls and Kopitiams around Malaysia.
Sirap Selasih (Malay)
Sirap Selasih is a sweet drink with the fragrance of a garden of roses topped with sweet basil seed (selasih). Within 2-3 minutes, the basil seeds expand and look very odd, a bit like frog eggs!
The basil seeds are tasteless and are only there for the chewy texture.
Cincau (Malay) or Leong Fun (Hokkien)
Cincau or grass jelly is a sweet dessert made of a type of plant called Mesona Chinensis, which belongs to the mint family.
The leaves and stalks of this plant are dried and boiled with starch or rice flour.
After cooling down, the liquid will firm into a jelly-like consistency.
Cincau is topping for Malaysian desserts or added to other beverages such as soy milk, iced teh Tarik, and Sirap Bandung.
Alternatively, it can be served on its own with some sugar syrup, as ‘Iced Cincau.’
Cincau drink is also sold in cans.
Soya Cincau aka Michael Jackson (soy drink with grass jelly)
Only in Malaysia will you hear somebody order a glass of Michael Jackson!
Malaysians named the drink after MJ because of his song “Black and White,” which refers to the drink’s white cold Soya Milk with black Cincau (Grass Jelly).
Alcoholic Drink in Malaysia
Alcohol is generally prohibited for Muslim consumers in the country, as Malaysia’s sharia law forbids Muslims from drinking alcohol.
Alcohol is mostly banned for Muslims in the states of Kelantan and Terengganu.
While drinking alcohol is legal in Malaysia, driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal, and as a crime is strictly enforced.
Being caught driving while intoxicated is punishable by immediate arrest and may result in extensive jail time.
Ice Cold Beer
Other than the conservative East Coast states, alcohol and beers are easily found in supermarkets and pubs.
A glass of a cold, good old’ beer is an instant relief against Malaysia’s tropical climate.
In Sarawak, the natives enjoy a rice wine called ‘tuak.’
Tuak comprises four essential ingredients: cooked glutinous rice, a yeast starter (ragi), water, and sugar.
Some tuak producers may include honey to give it a mead-like flavor.
In Malaysia, palm wine or toddy is served as either a sweet, non-alcoholic beverage derived from fresh sap.
A sour beverage is made from fermented sap but not as strong as wine.
There used to be several licensed Toddy shops throughout Malaysia (except on the East Coast), but many have closed down.
Unusual Malaysian Drinks Names – Tiger, Lion, Cat’s Eye, Snake?
Finally, if you think the Malaysian Drinks List above is enough to get you confused, try ordering these drinks with Malaysian Animals in them?
Malaysian Milo Drinks from Taiping, Perak
When you visit, the local will recommend an infamous local Taiping beverage of a mix “Kopi O” (black coffee) and Milo (cocoa), with a hidden message behind the Hokkien language literally translate to “tiger bites lion.”
Hor Ka Sai (虎咬狮) has an interesting tale.
In the olden days, this cuppa depicts a strong, robust tiger!
The drink emphasizes zealous miners cuppa of Hor Ka Sai feels awaken and energetic amidst their workdays.
“Hor Kar Sai” (Tiger bites Lion) – White Coffee & Milo
“Sai Kar Hor” (Lion bites Tiger) – Milk Tea & Milo
If you want to go easy on the sugar, try a plain Milo less sugar instead
Air Mata Kucing (Malay)
Translated – Cat’s Eyes Water, the Air Mata Kucing was rated 6th place in the “50 most delicious drinks from around the world”.
The critical ingredient is made from a monk fruit known as “Lo Hon Guo” in Chinese with dried longan and fresh winter melon strips.
The Mata Kucing refers to the dried Logan in the drink.
Air Ular Peng (cold snake water) (Sabah)
Air Ular is just a herbal drink and has nothing to do with snakes.
In Conclusion, there are over a few hundred variations of Malaysian Drinks for you to choose from.
If you are still undecided, you can always ask for a bottle of mineral water or “Sky Juice.”
The Classy Name of Plain Water is known as Sky Juice for us Malaysians.
What’s your favorite Malaysian drink?
Do the unusual names and juices tempt you?
Malaysian drinks may sound unusual, but you’ll be bowled over by the unique and delicious thirst quenchers.
Have you had any of these unique Malaysian drinks before?
Tell us which unusual juice you would be most tempted to try the most in the comments below.