I recently received a request to do a write up on ‘pulled tea’. I pulled up my sleeves in delight and got to work. In all honesty pulled tea had me thinking only of India where it’s quite viewed as a routine sight. But of course, research yields result. Any reference to pulled tea would lead you to ‘TehTarik’ as it is called in Southeast Asian countries of Malaysia and Singapore.
The art of pulling tea
This thick frothy milk is made of black tea, condensed milk and evaporated milk. The showmanship and skill involved in its preparation are what draws attention to the tea . The art of pulling tea – pouring the brew between two containers is not just impressive looking, but also improves the taste of the tea by mixing the tea and the milk thoroughly, giving it a smoother, creamier texture and a lovely frothy top. The pulling process also helps to cool the tea down faster.
The love for this drink is evident with it featuring as one of 49 unique red icons depicting ‘Singaporean things’ in a campaign spanning two years. The campaign was a part of celebrations in the event of Singapore turning 50.
The Teh Tarik Man
Red Hong Yi is a Malaysian artist who turned the drink into an art form. She used 20,000 tea bags to create the piece known as the “TehTarik Man” for the World Economic Forum in Davos (Pictured). This is an excerpt of her thoughts about her creation.
“Perhaps more important than the drink itself is the underlying culture. Locals gather in kopitiams and mamaks, and here they talk about where to buy the best durians, the traffic, politics, weather, soccer… It is a drink that brings people together and I hope that I get to share a bit of my country through this piece!”
As mentioned earlier, the technique of pulling tea is widely used all over India. This is a common site in street-side shops and restaurants. Here as well Chai wallas are quite proud of their tea pulling skills.
TehTarik, considered the national drink of Malaysia. I shall conclude on that note.