/‘tεh si pεη/ (IPA) n.
- A delicious concoction of red tea, Gula Melaka and evaporated milk carefully presented unstirred in three or more layers.
- A popular variant of a (also) popular morning drink with origins from Kuching, Sarawak.
- This blogger’s all-time favourite drink.
- A drink that deserves it’s own page. =)
If you’re a fellow Kuchingnite, you’d already have a rough idea what teh-C peng is. Since its more of a Kuching-thing, I’m betting that there are quite a few out there who doesn’t quite yet know about this hidden treasure of Kuching.
Before we proceed, note that we’ll be discussing the teh-C peng special, also known as the 3-layer variant more popular in Kuching. You should also know that a Kuching teh-C peng special is very different from regular teh-C peng found elsewhere in the region. Read on!
So yeap, this is a page all about teh-C peng, that drink my blog is named after. And due to its lengthy nature, I’ve divided the guide into a few parts to make your life easier:
- Word-by-word definition of the name
- The various types of teh-C peng
- teh-C peng DIY
- How to drink your teh-C peng (duh.)
- Best of the best teh-C peng in Kuching.
The name, in three parts.
So lets start off with getting down and dirty with the name — ‘teh-C peng’ by dissecting its three-part name. teh literally means tea in Malay.
The tea used in teh-C peng’s are usually of a certain variant of red tea.
There is no official definition for the ‘C’ in the middle but according to popular conception its lingo for ‘evaporated milk’. It is accepted in almost every kopitiam in Malaysia, that when you add the suffix ‘C’ to an order of a drink, you’re implying that you want evaporated milk to be added, or the milked variant of that drink. Milk-ed variants of drinks are very common in Malaysia, not limited to kopi-‘C’, cincau-‘C’ and of course, teh-‘C’.
According to the Singlish Dictionary’s definition of ‘kopi-C’, the ‘C’ is known to stand for a certain Carnation brand of evaporated milk. Ask those of the older generations and they may be familiar with it, for I’ve never heard of a particular Carnation brand of evaporated milk. But it seems that’s how the ‘C’ in teh-C peng originates.
Okay, now lets move on to peng. Which is ‘ice’ in Hokkien. This is another commonly used suffix when ordering drinks in Malaysian kopitiams whenever you want your drink to be iced. It is optional though, for when you omit the -peng, the waiter would assume you want your drink steaming hot.
So there you have it, a seemingly complex but commonly used formula for ordering drinks here in Malaysia. If you’ve properly grasped how I defined the three-part name, you’ll instantly make out that teh-C peng means, simply, in English — iced milk tea. =)
Specially in three layers.
If you’d order yourself a glass of teh-C peng anywhere else in Malaysia, you’ll probably get a light-brown coloured glass of typical iced milk tea. Obviously. But when you’re here in Kuching, teh-C peng comes in three layers, some even five.
Its three layers are often made up of (top-to-bottom) tea, evaporated milk and Gula Melaka (Palm sugar) syrup. Simple physics would explain how the different densities of the three main ingredients float on top of each other.
It’s three layers are often made up of (top-to-bottom) tea, evaporated milk and Gula Melaka (Palm sugar) syrup.
In most Kuching kopitiams, ordering for ‘teh-C peng’ gives you the three layer version. But there are places in Kuching where ordering ‘teh-C peng’ serves you the normal iced milk tea. In such cases, you’ll have to emphasise that you want the ‘three-layer’ teh-C peng or by ordering teh-C peng ‘special’.
When ordering, you’ll have to emphasise that you want the ‘three-layer’ teh-C peng or by ordering teh-C peng ‘special’.
To be safe though, be sure to include the ‘special’ in your orders whenever you want your teh-C peng to come in three (or more) layers.
Make yourself a cup!
By no means a complete guide but a rough idea at how you could make your own teh-C special. Check out how I did it (and failed miserably, but you’ll get the idea) in this post.
How to drink it?
Do I have to teach you how to drink tea? =P
Seriously though, to be consumed, you have to, obviously, stir up its three layers evenly until it forms a smooth light-brown (sometimes almost orange) colour. And no, you don’t get a spoon to do the stirring, its done with your straw.
When you’re satisfied with your stirring, simply drink it like how you’d sip on your Starbucks ice blended frappuccino. =)
Where in Kuching should I try it?
Good question. =D Seeing as teh-C specials have gone mainstream in East Malaysia and also in the Peninsular to some degree, you can pretty much find teh-C special anywhere, including your nearest neighbourhood coffeeshop. But it goes without saying that the teh-C special experience will vary from coffeeshop to coffeeshop, across even streets, and what more, oceans.
A lot of people can testament to the fact that decent teh-C special offerings are rare even in Kuching itself. During the teh-C special boom in Kuching a few years ago, a lot coffeeshops struggled to concoct a good emulation of the original blend. Some did it quite decently, some innovate the drink into offering more ‘layers’ to it, others fail miserably. That said, as with every other Malaysian dish or drink sensation that spirals into popularity (and inevitably poor adaptations), it is always worth to revisit the place where it all started.
Fresh Food Court, 7th mile bazaar — The Birthplace
The best place in Kuching to savour teh-C special is none other than the Fresh Food Court at the 7th mile bazaar. I’m not sure as to its authenticity but it is widely acknowledged that the three-layer teh-C peng originated under these very roofs before gaining popularity all over Kuching.
It is widely acknowledged that the three-layer teh-C peng originated under these very roofs [of the Fresh Food Court] before gaining popularity all over Kuching.
In fact, I had my very first three-layer teh-C peng right here at Fresh Food Court a few years back. It was love at first sight. I’ve been a devoted teh-C peng lover ever since that first cup. And in my personal opinion, Fresh Food Court still is home to the best teh-C peng Kuching can offer.
Their popularity grew city-wide purely by word of mouth. Their teh-C peng is so good, and tauke so modest, they don’t advertise their speciality at all. Seriously, you could be sitting in there all day without a clue that they serve Kuching’s best teh-C peng. Unless, over time, you realise there’s a dominant drink on the tables around you and on the waiters’ serving trays.
Fresh Food Court charges a decent
RM1.40 RM1.60 a glass. Take away is slightly more costly at RM1.80 RM1.90 (pricing revised circa 2008), probably due to the larger size of their sealed plastic take-away cup.
The above examples of recommendations are listed out based on my observations alone. Thus, it is no way complete. If you feel that I’m missing something to the best teh-C peng list, feel free to recommend alternatives through the comments below. I’ll be more than glad. =D