Friday, September 3, 2010

The Art of Making Tea in Indonesia

The Way of Tea

This is my last Indonesia post...until I return. Then I'll have a slew of new posts! But, I'm back in New York...Until January, and then I head to South Africa for the semester so be prepared for lots of Rooibos related articles!

If you haven't realized already, tea is HUGE in Indonesia. Everyone drinks it at every time of day. Teh Melati (Jasmine Tea), hot or iced, with or without lemon, always sweet. You can always find a kaki lima (literally five feet, meaning a street stall) selling your cuppa.

On my last day in Java, I went with Ria and her cousin Monika to visit their family in Solo, another small city in Central Java only an hour away from Jogja by train. When we arrived at the station, we had a bit of time to wait until we were swooped away by family for a wonderful day. So what to do? Drink tea of course! The tea kettles in Indonesia are these huge, metal monstrosities. They need to be big though, for all of the tea the locals are drinking. The tea leaves are popped right into the kettle of boiling water and set to brew. Depending on how you like your tea, it is then made to order.

The Giant Kettles

It wasn't until I got to Indonesia that I could appreciate drinking tea out of glass cups. But all the tea is served in small beer mugs or small glasses and it soon became a way of life for me. The sugar goes into the cups, the tea is filtered, and then additionals are added. That morning I had teh panas (hot tea), Monika had es teh manis (sweet iced tea) and Ria has es teh lemon (you can guess what that is!)

Tea Time!

I never had a bad cuppa in Indonesia, that's for sure. The tea men and women make tea all day and certainly know what they are doing. Anyway, this post is making me nostalgic for a hot beverage. So before I begin to ramble I'm going to put the kettle on and enjoy some Teh Sosro Heritage Jasmine Tea from Indonesia! Thanks for reading!

Me having fun in Solo



  1. I love the pic of you frolicking with those masks! The tea kettles look so colonial!

  2. Those tea vendors are sure going to miss such an enthusiastic customer!

    Looking forward to learning about tea etiquette in Latin America!

  3. tea tea tea!!!!
    come for more tea, mas!! :D

  4. @dani: those tea kettles...ugh! i miss their huge, bulky sight!
    @mel: latin america?!?! are you going there?
    @mbak ria: coming SOON!!!

  5. Hi Ethan,

    Thanks for posting these tea experiences in Indonesia. I'm a big fan of teas and I happen to be an Indonesian living in New York. I'm going home next week and right now I'm in love with Rooibos Africana. Do you happen to know a place that sells specialty teas in Jakarta? I've asked around but no luck :(

    Thanks Ethan!

  6. Hey there!

    Rooibos is a lovely tea! I am a huge fan of it, myself. As for specialty teas in Jakarta, here are some suggestions: I'm pretty sure Tea Addict on Jl Gunawarman sells their house blends to take home and they are really great! Siang Ming Tea is a Chinese Tea place and they sell their own tea to take home @ Mal Kelapa Gading. I'm also pretty sure you can find TWG Tea from Singapore at Plaza Indonesia or Grand Indonesia on Jl Thamrin. And I love TWG!!! So if you find it, get it. Their rooibos is awesome!

    Selamat Jalan! Thanks for writing!