Meat Bone Tea

The origin of Meat Bone Tea, or Bak Kut Teh, is a mystery. Generally, there are two assumptions. Firstly, it is said that there were swarms of Fujian immigrants coming to seek a living in the Southeast Asian regions during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Some settled in the city of Klang in Malaysia, eking out a living by selling a kind of complex medicinal broth of meat, bones and herbs that was originally their hometown's cooking. This nutritious broth was very popular with the coolies who would eat it for breakfast as a tonic to boost their energy. "Teh" in the Fujian dialect could mean either tea or herbal decoction, such as bitter tea. Besides, it was customarily consumed with a pot of tea on the side. Thus, it was named Bak Kut Teh, a.k.a. Meat Bone Tea. Secondly, it is also argued that it originated in the city of Klang, saying that Li WenDI, a Klang native of Fujian extraction, pioneered the addition of Chinese medicinal herbs to the complex broth of meat and bones. It was so well-received that people nicknamed it Bak Kut DI, a.k.a. “Meat Bone DI,” since the words for both “tea” and “DI,” in the Fujian dialect were homonyms. As time went by, “Meat Bone DI” became “Meat Bone Tea.” Regardless, it is certain that Bak Kut Teh is associated with the city of Klang and thus commonly referred to as the Malaysian Style. The broth is prepared by simmering traditional Chinese medicinal herbs and spices such as star anise, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, etc. with pork ribs, being consumed with rice or fried dough sticks dipped into the broth. Besides, strong Chinese tea is also served to help dilute and dissolve the fat from the meat. Bak Kut Teh also has a Singaporean style said to have been introduced by the Chaozhou immigrants during the older days. It is prepared with a lot of pepper and garlic instead, being lighter in color with a strong peppery taste.

Recommended Restaurants

1) Old Bazaar Kitchen
Address: G/F, 32-38 Cross Lane, Wan Chai
Telephone: 28711993

2) Malacca Cuisine
Address: G/F, 12 Burrows Street, Wan Chai
Telephone: 21777899