10 Brilliant Travel Tips for Teh Tarik in Malaysia
The locals commonly drink Teh Tarik in Malaysia.
It is the unofficial national drink of Malaysia, where it was invented that has become a cultural icon.
The hot beverage is a simple mixture of strong black tea, condensed milk, and lots of sugar.
The name ‘Teh Tarik’ literally means ‘pulled tea’ in Malay, referring to pouring the tea back and forth between two containers to create a frothy texture.
The popular beverage is found in Indian Muslim-run Mamak stalls and open-air Malay Warung and other eateries.
Malaysians often enjoy the staple beverage with local snacks such as Roti Canai or prepacked Nasi Lemak.
Making Teh Tarik is not just for show; it also helps to mix the ingredients thoroughly and cool down the tea.
The result is a deliciously sweet and creamy drink that Malaysians and tourists enjoy.
History of Teh Tarik
Malaysia is a cultural teapot where indigenous Malay, Chinese, South Indian, and British influences are mixed.
Tea drinking has a long history in Malaysia.
In the 1830s, black tea was first introduced by the Chinese.
After 1850, street merchants in South India perfected the art of tea pulling.
After the end of British colonialism, about a century later, milk and sugar were introduced (1867-1957).
Tea leaves were inexpensive before World War II.
Back then, Chai was made with black tea and whole cream milk.
After the Japanese occupation ended in 1945, there was a demand for premium Malayan tea.
Local chai vendors needed help purchasing premium leaves from Cameron Highlands tea farms.
They turned to sarabat, a cheap remnant, the lowest quality dust left over from tea processing, with a sharp, astringent taste.
The South Indian merchants turned to condensed milk to mask the tea’s bitterness.
The mixture produced the much-loved street beverage.
Teh Tarik was created as a result of inventiveness and ingenuity.
Tea pulling is essential to properly blend the tea and create a thick, frothy top.
The tea is poured as high as possible without losing a drop from one pitcher to the next.
Pulling the tea increases its flavor, making it very frothy and light, as it combines the tea and condensed milk.
People of various ages and backgrounds love Teh Tarik, which has evolved into a symbol of Malaysian identity.
George Town is the ideal location to try a cuppa of Teh Tarik as the city has numerous traditional cafés that have stood the test of time.
Teh Tarik is a simple beverage that connects all people from different races, cultures, and religions.
What is Teh Tarik?
Even before the craze of consuming Taiwanese Milk Teas, Malaysians adore Teh Tarik.
The drink is a plain, tasty milk tea that is inexpensive.
Drinking tea is enjoyed all day in eateries such as Indian Muslim Mamak stalls, Kopitiams, coffee shops, and hotels.
The classic beverage is available from breakfast till dinner!
Teh tarik is a beverage deeply ingrained in Malaysian culture, and the government considers it a vital component of Malaysia’s culinary heritage.
The Art of Pulling Tea
The art of making Teh Tarik is not an easy one to master.
Getting the perfect consistency and flavor requires skill, practice, and precision.
To create a foamy texture, the hot fluid is repeatedly poured between two containers from a height.
The process brings the tea’s temperature down to a palatable level.
If you can witness some Teh Tarik action, you will see an arc of piping-hot tea poured from one tin cup to another, increasing the distance with each pass.
Pouring and pulling the tea back and forth takes some finesse, as the temperature and timing must be just right.
Experienced Teh Tarik artisans, just like a barista, can sculpt creative foam, adding an extra flair to the beverage.
The best is watching the steady stream of a miniature waterfall flawlessly flow into a glass with the same level of foam.
Who Drinks Teh Tarik?
At the Mamak Stalls, everyone is equal.
You will see office workers and students.
Families with young children, uniformed street cleaners taking a break, and the occasional tourists.
The allure of this bubbly drink draws them to any Malaysian city at any time of day.
Here you’ll spot locals of all backgrounds crowded around plastic tables outdoors, sipping mugs of the brown-colored drink with orange hues while chatting about anything and everything.
Where to Drink The Tarik?
Teh Tarik is not just a delicious drink but also a social activity.
Often served at roadside stalls or small cafes, drinking tea is a favorite Malaysian pastime.
The Warungs are where people chat and enjoy their favorite cup of tea.
The relaxed atmosphere and friendly chatter make it a popular spot for locals.
Often you will find curious tourists joining in the camaraderie of drinking tea and having a snack of Roti Canai, prepacked Nasi Lemak, hard-boiled eggs, and local kueh (cakes).
It has become a quintessential part of Malaysian street food culture.
Health Benefits of The Tarik
Aside from its cultural significance, Teh Tarik also has some health benefits.
Black tea contains antioxidants and has been shown to improve heart health and lower the risk of certain cancers.
Condensed milk, on the other hand, is high in calories and sugar, so it is best to consume it in moderation.
Malaysians will often order their tea, ‘kurang kurang manis.’ (lesser sugar) or even The Tarik Kosong (which means no added sugar.)
Other Malaysian Tea Drinks
In addition to the classic Teh Tarik, variations of the drink are popular in Malaysia.
For example, “Teh Ais” is iced tea, while “Teh O” is tea without milk.
There are also regional variations, such as “Teh Halia,” which is tea with ginger, and “Teh Susu,” which is milk tea without a frothy texture.
While Teh Tarik is undoubtedly the most popular drink, Visitors unfamiliar with Malaysian kopitiam lingo may need clarification on these ubiquitous beverages on the menu.
Malaysian drinks are typically sugary by Western standards unless otherwise requested.
Go local and watch the action when a drink is ordered – don’t be surprised when the order-taker relays it to the tea counter in a loud voice!
Teh C: Tea with evaporated milk and sugar.
Teh: Hot tea with milk and sugar.
Teh O: Hot tea with sugar.
Teh O Peng: Iced tea with sugar.
Teh Halia: Teh Tarik has ginger added and is a refreshing healing drink when one feels cold or sick.
Milk, Sugar, and Iced Tea
In Malaysia, milk in the Kopitiam means tinned condensed or evaporated milk – not whole cream milk.
By default, sugar is added to most Malaysian coffee and tea drinks.
Drinks are served hot unless you specify “peng,” which means chilled with ice.
When ordering, you can customize your drink.
For no sugar: tak mau gula (pronounced “tee-dak maw goolah”)
For no milk: tak mau susu (pronounced “tee-dak maw soozoo”)
Kosong means empty or plain to ensure the milk and sugar are left out.
For iced coffee and tea, add peng (pronounced “ping”)
Cultural Significance of Teh Tarik
Teh Tarik has also become a part of Malaysian popular culture and has been referenced in movies, TV shows, and even pop songs.
Its iconic status has helped to elevate the drink beyond just a simple beverage and has made it a symbol of Malaysia itself.
Teh Tarik Controversies
However, Teh Tarik is not without its controversies. Some have criticized condensed milk, which is high in sugar and can contribute to health problems such as diabetes and obesity.
Additionally, there have been concerns about the hygiene practices of some of Teh Tarik’s stalls, particularly those that operate at roadside stalls.
While these concerns are valid, many Malaysians believe that Teh Tarik is a beloved part of their culture and are willing to overlook these issues.
In conclusion, Teh Tarik is a beloved beverage in Malaysia that has become a cultural icon.
Its unique preparation, delicious flavor, and social significance have made it a Malaysian street food culture staple.
While it may not be the healthiest drink, it is undoubtedly one of the tastiest and most enjoyable.
So, if you ever find yourself in Malaysia, try a cup of Teh Tarik – you won’t be disappointed!
Discovering Teh Tarik As A Tourist in Malaysia
Malaysia offers diverse and mouth-watering street foods, and unique local drinks are part of the culinary highlights.
One of the top drinks is the Malaysian Teh Tarik, a foamy, creamy, delightful milk tea.
The best local snack with a frothy cup of tea with condensed milk is a nice packet of Nasi Lemak or Roti Canai.
Visit Penang, located in northwest Malaysia, renowned for its rich cultural diversity and mouth-watering cuisine. Here is a list of some of the must-try Penang food items:
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