6 Things You Didn't Know About Tea In Singapore
STORY: Priyanka Elhence
21 May 2020
Teh is a serious culture in Singapore with deep roots in history, no matter what ethnic background you come from. For instance, did you know that teh tarik originated from the time of Indian-Muslim immigrants who set up drinks stands for the workers at rubber plantations around the Malay Peninsula after World War II? The Indians substituted their spiced chai for a tea that had heavier milk, hence creating teh tarik.
To celebrate Internationl Tea Day today (May 21), here are some other things you might now know about tea in Singapore:
1. What makes teh tarik so special?
Our unique spin on the Indian style of heavily sweetened milky black tea is teh tarik, which literally translates to ‘pulled tea’. Tea dust and condensed milk are mixed together in a long cotton tea filter and then repeatedly poured from one iron beaker to another. This theatrical ‘pulling’ mixes the tea and gives it a foamy, frothy appearance. In fact, it’s worth hopping over the border to watch Malaysia’s annual pouring competitions where teh artisans juggle tea through the air without spilling a drop.
2. Can’t decide between tea and a cappuccino?
Now you don’t have to. Ask for a teh cino at any hawker centre, for a cup half-filled with condensed milk, mixed with water and filled to the top with teh tarik. The resulting drink looks like a cappuccino, hence the name.
3. Teh Tarik-inspired foods
Can’t get enough of your teh Tarik fix? Luckily, there are many food products inspired by this milk tea flavour. The teh tarik KitKat, or as it’s officially known as KitKat Duo Milk Tea, always sells out immediately at Giant, as does King's Potong Teh Tarik ice cream multipack.
4. Iconic neighbourhood-inspired teas
Pin Tea’s unique Singaporean tea collection boasts three flavours that represent the island’s main ethnic groups. There is Amoy Ahoy (Chinatown; smoky oolong tea), Tekka Minute (Little India; silver pearl jasmine tea) and Kampong Glamour (Arab Street; peppermint tea). Other popular flavours that represent Singapore’s local neighbourhoods are include Marina Magic, a caffeine-free lemongrass ginger tea; Sentosa Sunrise, a Darjeeling black tea; Cha Cha Changi, a rose oolong tea; and Ooh La Orchard, a premium aged pu-er tea.
5. Bubble tea is officially food too
Think ice creams, croissants, hot pots, bread and pizza. Bubble tea is so popular, we’ve changed it into an edible treat. When you’re craving for something more than just the drink, check out the Bubble Tea Ice Cream at Shuang Yeh’s Boba Milk Tea ice-cream bars. We’ve even got sweet snacks such as Bubble Tea Croissants from Brotherbird Milk & Croissants, and Bubble Tea Tarts from Edith Patisserie. Want hot bubble tea? Head to Spice World Hotpot at Clarke Quay for a piping hot bubble tea hot pot.
6. What is Singapore’s most expensive tea?
That would be TWG Tea’s Gold Yin Zhen Tea at a pretty $178 per cup. Priced at $850 for 50g, the exclusive Yin Zhen white tea leaves (also known as silver needles), are plated with 24 carat gold and are sourced from the famous tea-producing Fujian region in China. Expect a warm aroma with notes of vanilla and caramel, with a woody mineral aftertaste.