Oliver is…

He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man

…having a nice cup of tea

Anyone who knows me, even in the slightest, should know three things about me. I like beards. I listen to great music. I drink more tea than most.


It should come as no surprise, then, that my first real trip to Malaysia included a stop in the tea-growing region of the Cameron Highlands.


Staying in the decidedly chilly town of Tanah Rata was not only a great way to break up the long journey from Penang to Kuala Lumpur, but a beautiful area full of tea plantations.


First, the journey. I’ve talked highly of Malaysia’s public transport system already, but where it really excels is with its long distance buses. It seems like, as long as you don’t get a mini bus, you automatically get something special. This trip, and many that would follow, was in complete comfort: a big bus with just three seats in a row (a two and a one) and each like a large, comfy cinema chair. I can’t remember if I got water or snacks on this trip, but that would happen at some point too and, despite the incredibly windy mountain roads that drivers in other countries take at ridiculous speeds, the trip was all very smooth.


Tanah Rata serves mainly as a gateway to the tea estates nearby and I made sure to visit a couple, from farm to factory to tasting. For someone like me, it was the perfect experience, although, admittedly, the tea wasn’t all that nice because the milk in Malaysia is something kinda weird.


For those who want to make a nice cup of tea, here’s the secret:
Boil some water.
Put that water, along with a tea bag, in a mug, or similar.
Wait for a few minutes (the water should be a consistent dark browny colour — you may need to swirl the tea bag a couple of times).
Take the tea bag out and squeeze it over the mug with your fingers. If it’s too hot to do that, it’s not ready (or you have sissy fingers).
Add milk, stir (or swirl the mug), serve.

Another variation is the comfort brew, perfect if you’re feeling a bit sick. It’s basically the same except you use two tea bags, two spoons of sugar, less water and more milk.

Of course, if you’re Australian, you might do it this way, but you should really stop.
Boil some water.
Put that water, along with a tea bag, in a mug, or similar.
Immediately add in some milk.
Serve a weird, almost tasteless and colourless concoction.

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