10 Unusual Malaysian Drinks to Experience like a Local

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In Malaysia, we were surprised by the variety of delicious dishes influenced by Malay, Indian and Chinese cuisines.

 Little we know, Malaysia also has an amazing culture of unique Malaysian drinks and juices. 

At hawker centers which are at the core of the local eating culture, dishes are ordered along with Malaysian drinks.

These popular drinks in Malaysia are really inexpensive. Most local juices cost between 2 MYR and 3.50 Malaysian Ringgit, which is equivalent to $0.50 and $0.80 cents USD. 

The exotic names, arresting colors and unusual flavors, will have you looking forward to your meals, just to try one new Malaysian drink.

To help quench your thirst, try these 10 unusual Malaysian drinks to experience like a local.

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A Note About Malaysian Alcoholic Drinks

Malaysia is a majority Muslim country and as a result, alcohol is not available at Malay restaurants or at most hawker centers.

However, non-Muslims can drink alcohol in Malaysia as long as they comply with the local rules and regulations. In major Metropolitan hubs like Kuala Lumpur, you can find liquor sold at supermarkets or at some non-Muslim owned restaurants.,

Licensed establishments catering to tourists may have limited alcohol selections though priced at significantly higher prices.

That said, the local Malaysian drinks are fascinating and worth experiencing. Skip the beer and alcohol and instead drink the local flavors.

Here are 10 famous Malaysian drinks you don’t want to miss.

1- Teh Tarik – Pulled Tea – The National Drink of Malaysia

Teh Tarik Malaysian Drinks by Authentic Food Quest
A frothy cup of Teh Tarik

Teh Tarik or Malaysian pulled tea, is said to be the National Drink of Malaysia. The tea is consumed universally in the country and unites the Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures. 

This beloved Teh Tarik tea is significant as it represents the fusion of the multi-ethnic and multicultural country.

Teh Tarik can be found at local coffee shops known as Kopitiam or mamak food stalls across the country.

Black tea, sugar and condensed milk are combined and poured through the air between two cups until a rich frothy top is created.

The tea brings together Chinese tea leaves with the Indian style of making chai. 

What makes this drink so unique is the way it’s prepared. There is a showmanship and tradition that accompanies the preparation process. 

As the tea is poured from one jug to another, the distance between the jugs becomes wider and wider, creating an illusion that the long stream of tea is being “pulled” in mid-air. 

This creates a unique frothy top which unites the flavors and makes the tea smooth. It is foamy, creamy, sweet with a little kick.

Teh Tarik is more than just a cup of tea mixed with condensed milk. It is one of the most revered Malaysian drinks in the culture, so much so, that it has birthed an entirely new sport devoted to tea pulling.

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST RECIPE: If you want to taste Teh Tarik, the Malaysian national drink, make it at home with this simple recipe. Teh Tarik Recipe – How To Make Delicious Frothy Malaysian Pulled Tea

2- Barley Juice – Popular Malaysian Drink

Barley juice Malaysian drinks by Authentic Food Quest
Barley juice with Barley pearls floating at the bottom

The first time we saw “Barley” on a juice menu at a local coffee shop, we were surprised and intrigued. 

We would never have thought of having barley as a juice and that made us immediately curious to try it.

Served with ice, barley juice is a clear liquid, viscous in texture with added sugar and lime for taste. 

The juice came with whole barley pearls mixed into it which were soft, thick and sweetened from the sugar. 

We enjoyed the delicious juice which we found quite light and refreshing.

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Refreshing mixed barley and lime juice

Barley juice quickly became one of our favorite Malaysian drinks. It is widely available at hawker stalls, street food stalls, coffee shops and more. 

The barley juice can also be served hot, although we preferred it cold served with ice. In Malaysia, you can also find barley tea as well as barley and lime juice combinations.

Barley is an ancient grain loaded with nutrients. Drinking barley water on a regular basis can help promote weight loss, lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels and more. 

3- Air Bandung – Rose Syrup Milk Drink

Air Bandung Juice Penang Food Authentic Food Quest
Colorful Air Bandung Juice made with Rose syrup and evaporated or condensed milk

Air Bandung also known as sirap bandung or simply bandung is a famous and popular drink in Malaysia. 

In addition to Malaysia, this drink is also well-loved in Singapore and Brunei.

Very simple to make, bandung consists of evaporated milk or condensed milk mixed with rose syrup. This gives it a very distinctive bright pink color.

What we especially liked about air bandung was it’s smooth taste. Despite the fluorescent pink color, it did not taste chemically. 

In fact, we found the rose flavor very agreeable with the sweetness of the condensed milk.

In Malaysia, sirap bandung is served at Malay hawker centers or mamak food stalls.  In the Malay language, sirap refers to the rose syrup and bandung means combine or pair together.

Thus, the name of  this signature pink drink comes from the pairing of rose syrup with evaporated milk.

Allow yourself to be tempted by this popular and striking Malay drink.

4- Nutmeg Juice

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Tall glass of refreshing and tasty nutmeg juice

When we think of nutmeg, we usually think of the spice and the festive holiday season. Nutmeg juice was another intriguing Malaysian drink we discovered.

The juice is light and fruity and tastes nothing like the spice. It is served with ice and is very refreshing. 

Nutmeg trees were cultivated in Penang in the late 18th century by the British, as a way of expanding the spice trade business.

In Penang, nutmeg juice is available everywhere. From coffee shops, to hawker centers and food stalls, you are never far from a refreshing glass of nutmeg juice. 

Nutmeg juice is unusual and delightful juice that should not be missed on your travels to Penang.

READ RELATED: 9 Reasons To Feast on Penang Food in Malaysia

5- Water Chestnut Juice – Refreshing Malay Drink

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Surprising Water Chestnut juice

Water chestnut drink was one of the most refreshing Malaysian drinks we came across. 

This drink is made from raw Chinese water chestnut, which is actually a vegetable. This vegetable has a brown skin on the outside and a white watery crunchy filling on the inside. 

Water chestnut is a very popular ingredient in Chinese cuisine. It is known to be very healthy with its low fat, high potassium content, and gluten-free properties.

The drink is light brown in color. We found it very refreshing and slightly sweet.

In Malaysia, you will easily find water chestnut juice at predominantly Chinese hawker centers. It is a perfect light and refreshing drink for the hot Malaysian temperatures. 

This is one of the most surprising and delightful Malaysian drinks on this list.

6- Longan Juice  – White and Brown Longan Drinks in Malaysia

Longan Juice Malaysian Drinks by AuthenticFoodQuest
Side by side tasting of White Longan juice and Black Longan juice

On our first visit to the Philippines in Southeast Asia, we discovered the longan fruit and it quickly became a favorite.

We loved how easily accessible this fruit was with vendors on the streets selling it everywhere. 

An inexpensive fruit that is easy to peel, we enjoyed eating it on the go or having it as a snack between meals.

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Longan fruits from a local vendor

Before we arrived in Malaysia, we had no idea that Longan could be consumed as a juice. 

We discovered it at a hawker center in Penang. And, we were surprised to find it available either as black longan juice or white longan juice.

Black longan juice is made from the dried longan fruit which are dark brown to almost black in color.  

On the other hand, the white longan juice comes from the white and juicy flesh of the fruit. 

We tried them both and found surprising differences. The black longan juice had more intense flavors and was less refreshing than the white longan juice.

Overall, we preferred the white longan juice. However, we recommend trying them both side by side and making up your own opinion.

7 – Lychee Juice

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Refreshing Lychee juice with the fruits floating at the bottom

Lychee is a tropical fruit that reminds me of Christmas. As a young child growing up in Paris,  my mom would buy lychee fruits for Christmas. It was an exotic holiday fruit to be enjoyed during the festive season..

Lychee, also spelled litchi or lichi, are native to from China and also across Southeast Asia. Lychee and longan fruits come from the same family and share a similar shape. 

During our travels, we found the longan fruit to be more commonly available than lychee.

Already familiar with lychee fruits, we jumped on the opportunity to try the juice when we saw it on a Malaysian drinks menu.

When our drinks arrived, we were surprised to see how clear the drinks were, almost like water.

Lychee juice is very refreshing and light. It is an easy drink Malaysian drink and a great thirst quencher on a hot day. 

One nice addition to this juice is having the fruits added to the drink. The lychee fruits float to the bottom and you can end your meal with a taste of the fruit itself.

If you’ve had lychee fruits before and are curious about lychee juice, you can order it from Amazon and try this unique Malaysian drink.

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8 – Ambra Fruit & Sour Plum Juice

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Citrus tasting Ambra and Sour Plum Juice

Ambra is a tropical food commonly found in Southeast Asia. It goes by many names in the region. In Penang, it is known as Ambra or Buah Kedondong among Malays. 

The fruit is oval in shape about the size of a lemon. It is green in color and hard to the touch.

In Malaysia, the fruit is cut into pieces and used in rojak, a distinctive mixed fruit salad famous in Penang.

The juice that is extracted from the ambra fruit is used by locals for treating throat and cough infections. 

We tried the Ambra juice mixed with sour plum juice at a local food stall and found it very tasty.

With a citrus flavor, the juice is very easy to drink. It is not too sweet, and when mixed with ice, it is very refreshing.

9 – Air Mata Kucing Juice

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Unique ingredients in this tasty Air Mata Kucing juice

Every meal in Malaysia is an opportunity to try a new local fruit juice. With every sip, you find yourself opening up to new flavors and tastes. 

Air mata kucing was another delightful discovery we made. While having dinner at Chulia Hawker Center in Penang, Rosemary was intrigued by juice at a local stand called Air Mata Kucing. 

Not knowing what it was, though judging from the crowds, she took the opportunity to try this popular Malaysian drink.

Air mata kucing is an iced fruit juice made from winter melon (tong kua), monk fruit (lo han kor), dried longan (long ngan), and sugar. 

The juice is not sweet, but refreshing and thirst quenching. 

Later on when researching more about the drink, we learned that Mata Kucing is a close relative of the longan fruit. 

The fruit is said to have many health benefits. From providing vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and more. 

Traditionally, it is also used to treat diabetes, cancer, insomnia and more.

The best part about the juice is that it is very tasty. When you come across this Malaysian drink in Penang, be sure to try it and enjoy all the health benefits.

10 – Dragon Fruit & Lemon Juice

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Striking mixed dragon fruit & lemon juice

We love dragon fruits and were surprised the first time we saw it on a drinks menu at a local food stand. 

Without hesitation, we ordered it and were eager to compare the flavors of the juice versus the fruits.

When the drink arrived, we were startled by it’s bright pink color and dense texture. When combined with the lemon juice the taste was divine. 

Like many other Malaysian drinks, it is not sweet and you can taste the natural fruits not masked behind any artificial flavoring. 

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Dragon fruits, one of our favorites fruits

Dragon fruits are nutritionally dense and the lemon juice is good for vision health. 

Don’t miss trying this popular drink in Malaysia and don’t forget to eat the dragon fruit as a fruit.

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: Malaysian Coffee, sometimes known as white coffee is another traditional Malay drink not to miss, While we, unfortunately, missed trying Malaysian coffee, it is a local specialty to seek out. The white coffee has less caffeine and is described as having an almost buttery taste. Alternatively, you can order white coffee from Amazon and try it at home.

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In Summary

In Malaysia, the drinks culture is part of the everyday local food culture. 

At first, you may be surprised that you have to buy a drink when you sit down to eat at a local hawker center. 

Once you warm up to the idea, you will find that each drink is a sip into the fascinating Malay culture.

Malaysian drinks like Malay food are uniquely creative. The drinks are made using the abundance of the Southeast Asian exotic fruits, ingredients and vegetables. 

The best part is that these popular drinks in Malaysia are nutritionally dense and have many health benefits. 

Additionally, the Malay drinks are very refreshing and not artificially sweetened.

Allow yourselves tempted by the unusual names and juices. Sipping on Malaysian drinks will have you literally drink Malaysia.

Have you had any of these unique Malaysian drinks before? In the comments below, please tell us which of these popular drinks in Malaysia you would be tempted to try.

Savor The Adventure!

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Bandung Juice Malaysian Drinks by AuthenticFoodQuest

63 comments

  1. oh I have never heard of any of these, Im allergic to gluten and dairy so its so hard to find drinks without those lol! these all look so good though!!

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  2. I love that you gave such an in-depth look at Malaysia’s specialty drinks! You had me at lychee! And their national tea? If I ever visit those two are definitely ones I need to try!

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  3. What an interesting pot. You don’t often see drinks to have in a destination! The barley and water chestnut juices don’t really sound like my thing, but I LOVE dragonfruit, so I’m sure I’d really enjoy that!

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    • Awesome Paige. So glad you enjoyed reading about the drinks in Malaysia. They are so specific and unique and must-have part of the food culture. If you already love dragon fruits, you’d love the juice. However, don’t write off the barley and chestnut juices just yet, they are delicious and full of nutrients for the body. Give them a chance if you find yourself in Malaysia. Cheers.

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    • Thanks, Sherianne. The juices in Malaysia are indeed a unique experience. Don’t write off the barley juice just yet, it is delicious and very good for you. We liked the Air Bandung, but to be honest we preferred the barley tea. Thanks for stopping by.

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  4. I’ve been to Malaysia several times, and yes, teh tarik and barley juice are my favorites! I even buy them even when I went to Singapore. Longan juice is okay but too sweet for me. I haven’t tried dragon fruit juice, though but if it’s not as sweet as the others, I think I’d love it.

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    • We totally agree Aleah, teh tarik and barley juice were two of our favorites as well. What kind of longan juice did you try? The black or white? The dragon fruit juice is delicious. Try it next time, you’ll thank us!

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  5. Last time I was in Malaysia, I really enjoyed the tea! Tea everywhere, tea is good together with anything there, even with Laksa (for me). Malaysians are very laid back and tea is perfect for them! I’d go for the tea over the juice.

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    • You are right Kirstie, teh tarik is everywhere in Malaysia. So tasty and the perfect accompaniment to so many dishes. We loved it with roti canai. Give the juices a try the next time you in Malaysia, you’ll be surprised at what you discover 🙂

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  6. I must admit I have never heard about any of these drinks before. I would like to try some of them, although not all seem to be that great to me. If I were to choose one, I think I would go for the Dragon Fruit & Lemon Juice one. It looks and sounds delicious!

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  7. Some very interesting concoctions, the lychee drink sounds tasty as long as it’s not too sweet. The dragon fruit & lemon juice also looks good and the colour is amazing. It does look really sweet but you say it is not that sweet.

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    • The combinations of juices in Malaysia surprised us. At almost every single meal, we encountered something new. Dragon fruits are delicious and they are not super sweet, as a result, the juice and especially when combined with lemon juice makes it very easy to drink. Try eating dragon fruits, you’ll understand why 🙂 Thanks Marcus and Mel.

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  8. Excellent read! And a great resource! Many of the Malaysian beverages are still a mystery to me, but the histories behind many of the food and beverages origins is certainly intriguing. Especially when you ask 5 different people and get 5 different answers about just about anything.

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  9. I’ve traveled around Malaysia and these varieties of local drinks are pretty much in every restaurant I’ve been to. I agree that lychee juice does look like water until you’ve tasted it! haha While longan juice is not as famous in the Philippines as its fruit is the only one that catches our eyes, I haven’t tried it. I remembered tasting most of these juices but just can’t recall how they’re called. My most favourite tho is the tea, number 1. I always had that when I was traveling around Malaysia! Plus, they are inexpensive and refreshing!

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    • So glad you already appreciate the delightful drinks in Malaysia. Agree, you can’t go wrong with teh tarik. The perfect drink for any time of the day. Next time you are in Malaysia, try the longan juice and compare the black and white and let us know what you think. Thanks for stopping by.

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  10. Great post! My favourite thing to do when I travel to a new place is to get to know the culture through food and drink – so I’m definitely bookmarking this 🙂

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    • If you are a tea lover, you would love teh tarik. The popularity of the tea is global and more than likely available at a restaurant or tea house close to you. Look for it and you’ll not be disappointed. Thanks Victoria 🙂

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    • OMG, Lychee wine? Did you like it? That sounds quite exotic. The lychee juice was the most familiar of all the juices we tried and quite tasty especially with the fruits at the bottom of the cup. Agree, the prices are really affordable and the juices are so fresh. The perfect marriage:) Thanks Vicky.

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  11. Preparing the Teh Tarik is an art form and turns into an iconic element in the culture :-). This amazing local beverage is now famous all over the world… I’ve drunk Teh Tarik in Singapore but I’m pretty sure, it tastes better in Malaysia !! I love juices so I would probably try all 😉

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  12. You have given me an excellent education on Malaysian drinks! I have not tasted any of this. I will be curious to try several of this (nutmeg, chestnut). Not sure about the pink drink. Is it evaporated milk or condensed milk? This are quite different (and condensed milk is super sweet on its own). Or, it is a mix of both?

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    • Thanks Ruth, so glad you enjoyed reading the article about the unique Malaysian drinks. The Air Bandung is made with either evaporated milk or condensed milk – that depends on the vendor. The drink is quite tasty and not super sweet. An experience worth having!! Appreciate you stopping by.

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  13. Ooh, the barley juice sounds really interesting, I’d love to try that! I’m surprised at Water Chestnut juice, though – when I buy the canned ones to cook at home, they smell kind of fishy.

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    • Actually Leigh, the Water Chestnut juice is made from special Chinese water chestnuts which are different from the ones you might find in North America. So, delicious and on the sweeter side. Yes, the barley juice was interesting to discover and quite refreshing to drink. Hope you can get to Malaysia soon and taste all these flavors for yourself:)

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  14. Well this blog certainly made me thirsty :D! I’ve been to Malaysia a few times and have never seen some of these so this is super helpful to help me look out for them next time I visit. I love the Malaysian obsession with lychee, it’s so refreshing on a hot day!

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    • That’s awesome that you get to visit Malaysia frequently. Happy to hear that this article on the drinks will be helpful for your next trip. Have fun trying and discovering all the juices and be prepared for wonderful explosions of flavors. Cheers.

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    • It was wonderful to discover Barley drinks. They are sweetened with natural sugar, though they were syrupy. Tasty though, and we would highly recommend tasting it if you have the chance. Thanks Elaisha for stopping by.

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  15. OMG this post made me miss Malaysia so much! I loooved the crazy delicious drinks there. I made it my mission to drink as many as I could. Teh Tarik is so satisfying in the morning with some roti and dhal for breakfast.
    Sour Plum was one of my favourites. It’s really yummy mixed with lime too. Malaysian cuisine is one of my favourites in the entire world. 🙂

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    • Yay, another Malaysian food and drinks fan. Yes, the drinks were so crazy and delicious and best of all, natural, without all the processed chemicals. The Teh Tarik was one of our favorite drinks as well. So glad you enjoyed the article. Thanks so much, Kelly!

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      • Wish I could try all of these drinks. Because of the current pandemic, we are having a different cuisine night every week at home (makes up for not being able to go to restaurants) this week it’s Malaysian night and we have no idea what drinks to serve. Will use this as a guideline!

        Reply

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