Teh C Kosong and embracing the place I now call home!

I used to be addicted to my early morning 'Bru' coffee when I used to live in Kerala. I loved the simple coffee then, it was no frills and a predictive good blend. Times have changed and I no longer relish coffee like I used to. I almost hate the high end boutique coffee shops these days for what they charge for simple pleasures of life. Nor do I like the foamy cappuccinos or lattes or even the americanos. It is just not 'ours'. I now drink tea in all forms and have grown to love the local tea from kopitiams (coffeeshops) in Singapore. I have also started liking the super strong foamless coffee they serve that is surprisingly easy on my stomach, senses and purse. Why not Starbucks or Coffee Bean you ask? I don't want to pay five dollars for a simple tea or coffee with a name and flavour that does not do anything fancy to my imagination or Instagram feed.

Teh C Kosong as you get in the Kopitiam

Kopitiam is the local coffee shop in Singapore, an institution in itself. If you have not grown up with it, you may take a while to like it, but when you do, you may find it hard to go back to your expensive cuppa! At a kopitiam, tea is teh and coffee is kopi, for starters. But if you want to order your drink here, this knowledge is zero. Because they make different kinds of teh-s and kopi-s: they do it with milk and no sugar, no milk and sugar, with milk and sugar, no milk and no sugar: if you ask them in English, "tea no sugar" it can be interpreted as "tea  more sugar". Learn the Kopitiam jargon is the order of the day if you want to have locally made teas and coffees in this country. That is how I learnt how to order my tea with milk but no sugar. Teh C Kosong. Kosong means zero in Malay, so that means 'no sugar' here. Just because I like no sugar in my tea or coffee now.

The Teh C Kosong kit. C stands for Carnation milk which is evaporated milk with no sugar

Teh C Kosong is a beautiful yet strong blend of tea leaves and full cream evaporated milk. It has a little bitterness that comforts you, yet not too strong to twitch your eyebrows. The aroma that unfurls from the mix of tea and full cream milk puts you in equilibrium instantly.

You can use tea leaves or tea dust for making teh. Many claim that tea dust is the best. I use tea leaves and am very happy with the result.

Recipe for 2 cups of Teh C Kosong:


Tea Leaves or Tea Dust - 3 heaped teaspoons
Water - 2 cups (measure should be the same cup you will serve the Teh in)
Carnation Evaporated Milk - 1 tablespoon per cup


Boil the 2 cups of water in a deep bottomed pan. As it starts boiling, add the tea leaves or dust. Let it boil for 2 full minutes. Switch off the flame and keep this covered for one minutes. 

Meanwhile prepare the cups. Measure 1 tablespoon each of Carnation milk into each cup. Using a tea strainer, strain the boiled tea into the cup. 

The blend of teh should be such that the colour should be deep as in the picture, the taste strong but not bitter. The evaporated milk should just be enough for the colour and the tea not too milky. That would be a perfect Teh C Kosong.

Note: If you prefer your tea with sugar, follow the same recipe but add 1 teaspoon of palm sugar along with the evaporated milk into the cup. Then proceed with the rest of the recipe. This is called Teh C. 

The right colour of a good Teh C Kosong

There are two countries that I call 'home'. India, of course is the first one because that is where I belong. Kerala to be more precise. The second is Singapore, the country that I have called home for close to 17 years now.

I am emotionally attached to both these places. There have been excitement, contentment, loneliness, happiness, sadness... many moments that have become life to me in these 42 years. I miss Kerala during celebrations. I miss Singapore when away and the comfort of the small space I have created as 'home'. Such is life. It comes with different flavours and you grow to find happiness in them all. New forms of happiness as we move from one place to the other in forms of new habits we embrace... Like Chai to Teh... Kappi to Kopi... because we yearn for 'home' no matter which country we go to... and sometimes a good cup of tea can bring back that comfort... like Teh C Kosong has been in Singapore to me.

Lots of love and happiness



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