Teh obeng what is that?

Indonesia is very famous for its tea. The tea has a very rich and unique flavor. Due to assimilative culture among the resident of SiJoRi (Singapore, Johor, Riau), Batam people used to say “Teh Obeng” for Sweet Ice Tea, and “Teh O” for warm and sweet tea. The name actually derived from “O Peng” (Chinese: ; pinyin: bīng; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: peng; literally: “ice”): with ice.

Most kopitiam or kopi tiam which is a traditional coffee shop found in Southeast Asia, offer “Teh obeng” together with meals and other combination beverages. Furthermore, the word kopi is a Malay/Hokkien term for coffee and tiam is the Hokkien/Hakka term for shop (). Menus typically feature simple offerings: a variety of foods based on egg, toast, and kaya, plus coffee, tea, and Milo, a malted chocolate drink which is extremely popular in Southeast Asia, particularly Malaysia and Singapore and Brunei and in some parts of Indonesia, especially at Sumatra Island.

This will confused some local tourists at first. For your reference, Obeng is Indonesian word for “screwdriver”. For local tourist who come to Batam at first, they will usually confused with the word. Why you ask a screwdriver with tea? Is this some kind of joke? Are they trolling me? That will be some thoughts local tourist may wonder.

Batam is populated with a fair amount of Chinese descendant, which means they talk in Mandarin, Hokkien, Theochew, or any other dialect. For them, they usually call sweet ice tea with their own dialect, teh apeng. Peng means ice. Due to many local residents who found it difficult to pronounce apeng, they usually call it openg. For the sake of simpler pronunciation,  the letter p is changed into b, and so they will call if obeng. From that time, the legendary name of Teh Obeng was born.

So, especially for local tourist, don’t get confused with word obeng. That means sweet ice tea, and don’t worry, we don’t put any screwdriver nor screw inside your tea!

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