A Tale of Pulling Tea: Teh Tarik

If you’re in search of sweet times on the streets of Malaysia and Singapore, this iconic hot milk tea beverage is an absolute must. You’ll see people everywhere drinking Teh Tarik, easily recognisable by the bubbly surface and familiar glass cups with handles.

At a Mamak stall in George Town, Penang

Teh Tarik means ‘pulled tea’, after the pouring action used when making it. After brewing Tea Dust through a silk stocking filter, in a similar fashion to Hong Kong style milk tea, and then adding a generous dose of condensed milk, the tea is poured rapidly back and forth from great heights between two steel jugs. Watching this being done without a drop being spilt is impressive and slightly hypnotic!

Unless you’ve tried Vietnamese coffee, the sweetness of the condensed milk might come as a shock. You can ask for Teh Tarik kurang manis, which in Malay means “less sweet”, or Teh-C, which comes with unsweetened evaporated milk. Even so, I’ve often found that sugar will still be added, therefore including the word kosong, meaning nil or zero, will help indicate you’re a sugar-free customer.

Tea time in Singapore

A glass of Teh Tarik costs around around 30 cents. It’s most commonly served in roadside restaurants and Mamak stalls that sell traditional favorites like Roti Canai, Mee Goreng and Nasi Lemak. There’s nothing better than taking a break with a steaming glass of Teh Tarik on a sunny afternoon and watching the world go by.

tarik-roticanai
Cow’s Milk Teh Tarik and Roti Canai – a piece of pure heaven

I have huge affection for Teh Tarik. My wanderings through Malaysia and Singapore wouldn’t have been the same without it. I even had a go at making it while staying at the brilliant Back Home Hostel in Kuala Lumpur who organize a Teh Tarik tea-time for guests twice a week.

TIP: Try Teh Tarik with ginger for extra kick!

Are you a fan of Teh Tarik? Please share your experiences in the comments!


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