This teh tarik recipe is easy for you to make at home to fulfil your craving for the quintessential South East Asian sweet drink. In this article, we also share the story and history behind this popular sweet beverage.
What is Teh Tarik?
Teh tarik is a preparation of milk tea popular in Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.
The word ‘tarik’ means ‘pulled’, and the name refers to the practice of “pulling” the tea by pouring it from high above. This also serves to mix the beverage.
We take note that this drink originated from Indian Muslim immigrants in Malaysia. They used to serve drinks outside rubber plantations in the post-World War II times. We observe that the original teh tarik recipe contained strong black tea and hot full-cream milk.
However, modern preparation contains condensed milk instead. It is still enjoyed to this day. In fact, it has become an integral part of the food culture of Malaysia and Singapore.
Difference Between Teh Tarik and Milk Tea
Many other Asian countries also serve a variety of tea with milk. But we wondered about what makes this one so special?
Teh tarik contains condensed milk instead of plain milk, making it a much creamier and richer drink. Additionally, we take note that the ‘pulling’ pouring preparation aerates the beverage and makes it light and frothy instead of dense and heavy.
The sweetness can be adjusted and varies wildly according to the specific teh tarik recipe being used. But unlike some milk teas, this popular beverage will always be at least somewhat sweet. This is due to the use of sweetened condensed milk.
All these components come together and sing in harmony to enhance this East Asian sweet tea preparation. From its humble beginnings as a simple beverage, we now see that this drink has evolved to become a social phenomenon.
If you haven’t tried this drink, you definitely should, even if you don’t (yet) know how to make teh tarik!
Calorie Count and Health Benefits
Although not the healthiest tea drink in Asia, we discovered that this beverage is relatively light on calories. This is in comparison to the more calories-hefty bubble tea drink.
The average teh tarik recipe contains only 124 calories per serving, with 22 grams of sugar. Not a terribly unhealthy start to the day, especially considering the whopping 5 grams of protein also contained within the drink.
If you are concerned about the sugar levels, we recommend you to request it served ‘kurang manis’, which means ‘less sugar’ in the Malay language.
Still, if you are looking to lose large amounts of weight, this drink is perhaps not for you. We suggest going for black or green tea instead. But if you are curious or lenient with your calorie counting, have a cup of teh tarik in the morning!
Although the basic formula for this sweet ‘pulled’ tea remains the same, we observe that there are countless other drinks inspired by or blatantly spun off this concept.
Some of these include Kopi Tarik or Teh Terapung. Other drinks are merely a spin on the original teh tarik recipe, such as Teh Tarik Madu, which simply substitutes the original cane sugar with honey.
We would like to highlight that the aforementioned two beverages are more elaborate in their differences.
Kopi Tarik is coffee prepared in the “tarik” style and utilizing sweetened condensed milk. Meanwhile, Teh Terapung is a layered milk tea using the same technique to prepare milk foam and to create density differences and a superbly stratified appearance.
Despite all these differences, we note that the basic recipe is still important as it forms the basis for the other slightly more complicated preparations.
Teh Tarik Recipe
Without further ado, we present to you the original, fundamental teh tarik recipe!
This recipe has been thoroughly vetted through years of use and is guaranteed to provide a lip-smacking tasty product every time.
Teh Tarik Recipe
- 3 tsp black tea preferably Ceylon, but other varieties such as Darjeeling and Assam can be used as well
- 2 tsp sweetened condensed milk
- 1 glass warm salt water or 1 pinch salt
- 1 cup hot water
Black tea base
- Prepare the black tea the way you usually do. Teh tarik recipes do not specify one particular method of preparing the tea.
- If using tea bags, place 2 bags into the cup of hot water, let steep for 5 minutes, then remove used tea bags and discard them.
- If using loose-leaf tea, place 3 teaspoons of leaves into the cup of hot water (or into the infuser of a teapot if you have one) and let steep for 5 minutes, then drain and discard used tea leaves.
- During the tea steeping time, soak a teaspoon in the salt water if you have it.
- To make it easy to perform the ‘pulling’ part of the teh tarik recipe, pour the tea into a heat-proof container that is easy to lift and pour from (such as one with handles). Traditionally, however, the drink is made directly in a cup.
- Remove the teaspoon from the salt solution, shake off the excess water, and use the spoon to add the 2 teaspoons of sweetened condensed milk into the black tea in the container.Some recipes use a pinch of salt instead, but that often is too harsh and saline, especially for such a small serving. If the salt water is too troublesome, however, use a pinch of salt. We strongly highlight to you to not forget to add salt as it will make the drink taste flat.
- And finally, to cement this as a teh tarik recipe as opposed to that of any other milk tea drink, pour the liquid from the container into a large mug. Then pour it back into the container. Repeat this process up to 5 times, but no more. This will make the drink just the right texture: velvety and frothy, but not too bubbly. It will also keep the drink from getting cold.
- Serve hot (traditionally in a transparent mug such as a beer mug) and enjoy!
We make a special note that the simplicity of the preparation of beverage is part of its appeal. Once you have mastered the basic teh tarik recipe, try one of the variations:
Teh Ais (“Ice Tea”): This is one of the most sought-after East Asian sweet cold drink today! Serve the teh tarik over ice in a transparent glass with a stem. Use a disposable plastic straw for the most authentic experience.
This drink is uncomfortably hot at the bottom, but the perfect cold temperature at the surface thanks to the ice cubes. Yum!
Kopi Tarik (“Iced Coffee”): Replace the cup of black tea with a cup of black coffee. This preparation removes the harshness of the coffee and makes it taste milder.
Teh Tarik Madu (“Sweet Pulled Milk Tea with Honey”): If you really want a sweet treat, you can try and create a sweeter variation made with honey at home! We think this version of the teh tarik recipe by Jom Makan Channel is great as reference.
We highly recommend you experiment with the pulling technique.
Once you master it, you can prepare froth and milk foam for cafe-style beverages with ease, without having to use a frothing wand. The possibilities are virtually endless!
We hope that this simple teh tarik recipe has also inspired you to seek out other new recipes! There are many delicious traditional beverages from other countries to further expand your own culinary horizons.