If you happen to find yourself in Malaysia, you are guaranteed to see natives sipping on a mug of teh tarik — the national drink of Malaysia. Let’s dig deeper into this sweet and earthy drink.

This Southeast Asian drink is known as teh tarik or pulled tea. It’s not only fun to make but it can test your serving skills when it comes to creating the perfect froth on top. Typically, this drink is consumed after dinner, but it can be enjoyed right alongside your favorite dish.

While the origins of the drink range from Malaysia and Singapore, it’s best known as the drink created by Indian Muslim immigrants who would come to Malaya for work.

Tea

Tea

Teh tarik is traditionally made with Indian tea however shipping spices from India would not be affordable. Malayan-based tea sellers had to utilize what they had around. Indian tea has the addition of extra spices, much like chai, however now tea dust (loose leaf tea) is used. This dust is the cheapest alternative. It is incredibly bitter, which is where the discovery of condensed milk changed the game — to alleviate the bitterness.

This drink is a cherished fixture in the Malaysian culture. It brings forth childhood memories and separates the stress of busy workers. A mixture of black tea, sugar, and condensed milk might sound like traditional ingredients for an average cup of tea. However, the method is what makes it stand out.

Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Rather than being stirred with a spoon, this tea mixture is “pulled.” It is poured back and forth between two pitches or mugs. A similar effect can be made with a handheld milk frother or coffee machine steam wand. This ensures the milk and sugar are combined with the tea more effectively. This method has become the only acceptable way to make teh tarik because it produces a thick, foamy, and rich drink.

The method of tea pulling has become widely popular and regarded as a display of showmanship. Malaysia will often hold competitions for patrons to show off their stylistic skills. Here is how you can make it part of your bar menu! Teh tarik can be enjoyed both cold and hot. For a cold option, add in 1/2 oz. of coffee liqueur like Kahlúa with a dash or two of bitters.

Want to sip on something warm and cozy? Add in a double shot of espresso and 1 oz. of your favorite bourbon.