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Fusing Indian, Chinese and British leverages, the Tarik symbolizes Malaysia in a cup and has extended assisted produce to the eclectic kingdom concurrently.
A hook of piping-hot tea rained lofty above the top because the server sprinkled the bubbly concoction from one tin mug to a different, increasing the space with each pass. In an act that seemingly defied physics, he angled the stream further over the table and channelled the miniature waterfall flawlessly into the glass.
The Tarik, or “pulled tea” in Malay, is usually drunk in Southeast Asia, but it is the unofficial national drink of Malaysia, where it had been invented. It is a relatively simple mixture of strong tea, milk and carbohydrate, and if you wander through any Malaysian city at any time of day, you’ll find most of all in the atmosphere crowded around plastic tables, savouring cups of the mocha-coloured drink while chatting about anything and everything.

Each family-run stall has its own nearly secured recipe, and therefore the trait of the Tarik is measured by its “pull”, a melodramatic show that aerates the liquid, enriches its deep flavour and helps it develop the quintessential froth that sets it aside from the other tea. Whoever can master this feat becomes an area celebrity with a devout following.
While its sweet, earthy taste is reason enough for the Tarik’s popularity, its cultural significance runs much deeper, and therefore the drink is a metaphor for the country’s strong sense of tolerance and variety.
Just as Malaysia may be a cultural melting pot of indigenous Malay, Chinese, British and South Indian influences, the Tarik may be a liquid fusion of its cultures and customs. The tea was first introduced by the Chinese within the 1830s; the craft of pulling was developed by South Indian street cooks after 1850, and milk and sugar were introduced nearly 100 years later during the top of British colonialism (1867-1957). Because many of the country’s cultures contributed to the creation of the Tarik, most Malaysians, no matter ethnicity, feel attached thereto today.
“The Tarik are some things which will connect people from different races, cultures and religions,” said Mohd Azmi, a cartoonist, author and ex tea puller from George Town. ” Thereby we now sit concurrently in just a niche, and here we have a coequal drink which is now briefly resisting the differences.”

Interestingly, the origins of Malaysian tea and therefore the invention of the Tarik find their roots within the rubber industry. In 1877, the director of the Singapore Botanic Garden, Henry Nicholas Ridley, imported the primary rubber tree from Brazil and British Malaya quickly became the world’s largest producer of rubber, counting on imported labour from China and South India to manage tens of thousands of trees. These South Indian immigrants, mostly from Chennai, brought with them an active enterprise of selling pulled chai, which at the time, was served without milk and made up of Chinese tea. Because the Indian-spiced tea became increasingly popular among rubber plantation workers, factory chai stands evolved from an area to seek out a fast drink as a refuge with vendors.
Fifty years after South Indian merchants first began hawking tea at Malaysian rubber factories, British-born businessman Archibald Russell discovered that the highlands of Central Malaysia were an ideal environment for growing tea. Russell imported plants from China and founded the primary Malayan tea plantation within the late 1920s. Malayan tea production rapidly expanded to serve the international market, even withstanding a bloody guerrilla campaign within the region during war Two.

As the area rebuilt its economy after the top of Japanese occupation in 1945, demand for fine Malayan tea was so high that local chai sellers could not afford to shop for the high-grade leaves from the nearby plantations. They turned to saraband, rock bottom quality dust and fragments leftover from processing, which was far more affordable but had an astringent taste. Adopting the British practice of adding milk and sugar to their brew, South Indian merchants turned to milk to mask the tea’s bitterness. Out of desperation and creativity, the Tarik was born. Next, it needed somewhere to grow.
The seaside city of George Town, a historical trading port and therefore the largest city on Penang Island, is taken into account by many Malaysians to be where the Tarik exploded in popularity shortly after World War Two. Strolling through its streets is sort of a tour of Malaysia itself: towering minarets sit next to brightly painted Hindu statues that sit opposite Buddhist temples. it is a cohesive jumble of diversity, and therefore the perfect place for a drink born from multiculturalism to thrive.

Today, the town is arguably the simplest place to sample the tea, and it is often tasted at a number of the country’s most famous Mamak stalls and roti shops. As we travel into the small Indian neighbourhood near Queen, Chulia and Market streets, we could see tea being majestically pulled on every corner.

Last Updated on September 12, 2022

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