Friday, October 6, 2017

Malaysian Teh Tarik

It's been a few months already actually, but I went on vacation to Malaysia and brought several recipes home. Every time I go somewhere I do my best to bring back a local cookbook and share those recipes with family. Teh Tarik however, was not something from a cookbook, but something I found on the streets.

Teh means 'tea', while Tarik means 'to pull' or 'pulled'. The name refers to the way the tea is made: by pouring the tea from one cup to the other and creating a frothy top. You can create even more froth by pulling away your hand further and thus creating a great difference in height. Teh tarik is one of the beverages commonly sold in restaurants - or on the street! It was probably brought in by Indian-Muslim immigrants, along with Roti Canai - which is another lovely dish and another story altogether.


Other than the commercially sold version, I wasn't able to taste any Teh Tarik in Malaysia at all. But when I came home I had to share it with my family, knowing that my sister and mother would love the sweet milk tea. I've researched, experimented and taste-tested to come up with the following recipe:

Teh tarik
2 glasses

600 ml hot water
1-2 tablespoons black tea leaves or 2 bags*
2 or 1-3 tablespoons raw cane sugar (optional)
2 or 1-4 tablespoons sweet condensed milk

1. Make a black tea and leave to steep for a few minutes until dark.
2. Add sugar and sweet condensed milk to the tea while it is still hot and stir to dissolve. You can add more or less depending on how you like your tea.
3. Sieve the tea to get rid of the tea leaves (or discard the bags).
3 1/2. Optional: leave to cool and place in the fridge for an iced version.
4. Before serving, pour the tea into your cup and 'pull' your hand away to keep pouring from a greater height - creating a froth on top of the tea. You can repeat this process a few times to create more froth. Alternatively, you can throw everything into a blender to make 'fool-proof' froth.

* Sabah tea from the Borneo Rainforest is great and used a lot in Malaysia. It is a slightly milky sweet black tea. Milky Oolong teas would make a good substitution or other smooth tasting teas. English black tea blends wouldn't replicate the flavour well, since they taste much sharper, but will still make a lovely cup in a pinch!

I haven't been able to make my froth last very long - not from the blender or by hand. Frothing by hand seems to create bigger bubbles which disappear a lot faster. The blender creates smaller bubbles which linger a bit longer, but are still not worth mentioning. I wonder if the pulling was actually meant to create bubbles, like when making ayran, or if it was meant simply to cool the drink, like you see with some coffee and tea ceremonies. Personally, I have a feeling pulling the tea was meant to cool the tea, such as with masala chai, but turned into an art of it's own. The Indian background of teh tarik might explain the similarities with chai. Bottomline, you really shouldn't worry about the bubbles and just enjoy the drink instead! 


Of course there are a lot more teas served in Malaysia. Here's a small list of beverages you might encounter on menu:
Teh Ctea with sweetened condensed milk
Teh O tea without milk, sweetened
Teh C ping iced tea with sweetened condensed milk
Teh O kosong hot tea with milk, unsweetened
Teh Tariksimilar to Teh C, but 'pulled'
Chammixed coffee and tea, sweetened
Miloa hot chocolate with malt
Air panashot water

The codes of "C" (sweetened condensed milk), "O" (no milk), "Kosong" (unsweetened), "Ping" (iced) and "Panas" (hot) apply to both tea (Teh) and coffee (Kopi) beverages. Appearantly a normal tea would come with milk and sugar, but in my own experience at restaurants it comes with a lot of lemon and sugar. I'd love to go to Malaysia again to try more of the teas and figure out how people serve their tea there.

Terima Kasih! (Thank you!)

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