Malay street food : Teh Tarik (stretched milk tea)

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Tea, the Chinese have been enjoying it originally as a medical concoction for thousands of years and has spread through Europe since the sixteenth century. It was popularised in Britain and was for many years and expensive luxury item until plantations in India yielded increasing supplies and the value decreased as the popularity increased amongst everyday Englishmen.

According to Wikipedia tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world, beaten only by water and an important part of social life in many areas of the world. Tea is very important.

The delicious nectar

The delicious nectar

Malaysia is no exception and the tea culture here is an integral part of community and peoples social lives. Malaysia has two elements in its recent history which to me would suggest it’s a tea-mad country – the large population of Indians, who are well known to be keen on chai and the recent colonial history and involvement with the British, well known throughout the world as a nation of tea drinkers.

Teh tarik is drank by all in Malaysia and is a popular drink to while away time in a kopitiam or Mamak bar. Taking influence from Indian chai, teh tarik is sweet, rich and milky.

The word tarik literally translates as pulled and can sometimes be called stretched tea also. Black tea is brewed and combined with sugar and condensed milk before being repeatedly ‘tariked’ between two vessels to create thick, rich creamy tea full of bubbles.

There is sometimes a certain amount of showmanship in creating the drink as servers will pour the tea between increasingly widening cups without spilling a drop.

The tea is served in a glass cup so you can view the rich, viscous pulled tea in all its bubbly glory. The  perfect way to start the day or as an afternoon pick me up.

One final thought – The Englishman, Sir Arthur Wing Pinero once said “Where there is tea, there is hope”.

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