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Teh Tarik : The Magic of Pulled Tea

When I first heard the words ‘pulled’ and ‘tea’, I asked myself, “how can you pull tea?”. Teh Tarik, as it's called in Southeast Asia, translates to ‘pulled tea’. The reason why pulled tea is given it’s name is because of how it is made. The ingredients of pulled tea are very simple, consisting of evaporated or condensed milk, water, and black tea dust. Despite having ingredients that you can easily get at a corner store, not following the steps properly won’t get you the texture you need to get in order to make a proper pulled tea. To accomplish the right texture/froth, you need a tea sock and two pitchers to pour the tea back in fourth until you achieve the right amount of froth for your cup. The higher in height the tea is poured puts in more air in the tea which will lead the tea to a more frothier texture and cooling down the tea. The act of pouring back and forth is why it’s called pulled tea. If you want to experiment in making this tea, below is a short video demonstrating the steps.

Experts in making Teh Tarik can turn it into a show by walking around and pouring the pitchers of tea at a high height in between without spilling a drop. Here is a video of a tea stall vendor in Bangkok, Thailand entertaining the audience while making Teh Tarik.

The start of pulled tea started around the 1950s in the Malay Peninsula after WWII ended. Indian Muslim immigrants were the tea makers before WWII and would make chai for their customers. After the war ended, tea leaves became so expensive that only the rich could afford it and the poor could not enjoy tea as they did before the war. The tea makers tried numerous experiments to recreate the tea beverages they enjoyed. They realized the rich would only buy the best quality tea leaves which lead to them purchasing leftover bad quality leaves at a cheaper price. To flip the leftover tea leaves they bought, they turned them into dust and boiled them with water for hours to save money and use them over and over again. Despite saving money with the cheaper and less desirable tea leaves, they realized that the more they boiled the tea dust, the more bitter and astringent the tea would get which led to them adding a milky sweetener in the tea.

Most locals tend to enjoy this tea during breakfast along with a popular Malaysian breakfast item called roti prata.

Teh Tarik originated after the war as a means to sell affordable and delicious tasting tea. Now, Teh Tarik is considered Malaysia's national drink. Try and make this delicious drink at home. It's easy and you'll be happy with the sweet taste of pulled tea.


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