Tea Culture in Malaysia

Tea Culture in Malaysia
The Malaysians word of tea is ‘teh’ which is taken from Hokkien dialect spoken in province of Fujian, China. However, Cantonese happens to be spoken widely in Kuala Lumpur. Cantonese is also a Chinese dialect and here tea is known as ‘cha’.

The first tea plantation was established in Cameron Highlands in Malaysia at the time of British colonization. It was J.A Russell who was a resident and businessman in Malaysia who was granted a franchise of land in the Cameron Highlands. He tied up with a tea grower in Ceylon and by the name of A.B. Milne and began expanding his tea plantation.

What began with the efforts of J.A Russell his company BOH, a handful labourers, one steam roller and the lush green steeps has now become Malaysia’s largest tea grower. About 47% of the region is used for production of tea here. Cameron Highlands is the most fertile spot and ideal region for tea growing in Malaysia. It is situated about 5,000 feet above sea level. The location of Cameron’s climatic conditions is perfectly in sync with those required to grow tea.

There are a couple of tea’s which the Malaysians love to drink and among them are the ‘the tarik’ which translates to ‘pulled tea’ and ‘teh o ais’ which means sweet black iced tea.

‘Tehtarik’ this is the most famous variation of tea which is available across Malaysia. The Malaysian street has many kopitiam’s or coffee shops. People come here to enjoy ‘tehtarik’ with snacks or meals. Besides the kopitiam there are ‘mamaks’ which are local tea shops and offer twenty four hour service. ‘Mamaks’ are famous for local gatherings.

Malaysia has a blend of Western and Chinese tea drinking cultures which have delve deep in their culture. It reflects Malaysia as a multi-cultural society.

The most important beverage which is enjoyed by all the Malaysians is the ‘tehtarik’.

The ‘tehtarik’ is prepared by adding condensed milk to a brew of strong black tea. The condensed milk is sometimes mixed with hot milk also. This mixture is poured from a height back and forth which creates sweet froth on top of the tea. Besides helping to mix the tea and condensed milk the tea also cools down and is brought down to a temperature which is just right for drinking.
There are many competitions held in Malaysia where experts come and display their techniques of pouring ‘tehtarik’. They whip milk through the air and go as high as possible displaying various techniques of pouring it.

The ‘tehtarik’ originated from the Indian Muslim immigrants who were staying in the Malay Peninsula. They set up stalls in front of the rubber plantations after the World War II. The workers drank this tea as refreshment. Serving ‘tehtarik’ with ‘roti canai’ is very famous in Malaysia. It is a sort of breakfast which is quite popular.

Besides the ‘tehtarik’ which is prepared by adding milk to it the other version which is quite popular is the ‘teh o ais’. There is no tea added in this type of tea and is had cold.

The ‘teh o ais’ prepared by steeping a tea bag or some tea leaves in hot water for about 30 seconds. To this liquid sugar syrup and some lime juice is added and finally it is topped with some ice. This is a refreshing drink and is loved by the Malaysians. They usually have it in the late afternoons.