An Introduction to the Tea Culture in Singapore

The tea market has been around for hundreds of years and its popularity has stayed the same, if not reaching more popularity. It’s really not a mystery since, aside from the calmness and relaxation that you get with every sip, there are a lot of benefits to drinking tea.

Singapore not only has kopi, but also has its very own tea culture, and locals enjoy it made in many different ways other than just tea leaves and hot water. Here are the different tea beverages you can try if it’s your cup of tea (pun intended):

Coffee Tea
This is the kind of tea you will find at a coffee shop, and is one of the more traditional forms of preparing and serving it.

The key to this method lies in the use a large metal cylinder and a sock (tea sock – this is where the hot tea is stored). This type of tea comes in different types and can either be served with condensed or evaporated milk and sugar (usually, it’s served with both).

There are a lot of terms used when it comes to serving this type of tea, which can be confusing at first, but they’re easy to familiarize and remember once you get the hang of it.

Bubble Tea
Though bubble tea receded in popularity after the 90’s, it has since made a comeback in Singapore. Common types of bubble tea are either red, green, or even milk tea, which are all flavored with syrup and sugar, with tapioca pearls or jelly and pudding serving as the pudding.

Teh Tarik
Teh Tarik, meaning “pulled tea” in Malay, is tea that is made with condensed or evaporated milk. The name comes from the process of “pulling” the drink (skilled makers usually use two cups to transfer the drink back and forth) when it is being prepared.

Black tea is usually used in making Teh Tarik. Its sister drink, Teh Halia, is milk tea with an added ginger flavor, and is prepared with the same method as Teh Tarik.

Chinese Tea
This timeless classic is enjoyed by many in Singapore, usually a drink of choice by the older generations rather than the younger.

There are two methods of preparing this tea. The first one is with the traditional tea set, which involves a lot of steps ranging from adding the hot water to the ground up leaves in the pot to pouring the tea into several smaller cups.

The second way of preparing Chinese tea is by adding the tea leaves into a pot of water and then bringing the water to a boil, and the result is a tea that is then poured into cups for people to enjoy.

Chinese tea is usually enjoyed as a group endeavor (hence the tea set), but it can also be prepared for just one to relax as an afternoon drink.