The Malaysian Iced Drink That Combines Coffee And Tea

In the sweltering summer months, do you drink iced coffee or iced tea? The answer to this question is often seen as mutually exclusive: you either like the rich and dark flavor of an iced latte or the delicate and refreshing taste of a fruit tea. What if you're someone who likes both coffee and tea? Malaysia has you covered with an iced drink that brings both beverages together in a single glass: ais kopi cham.

Kopi cham is a blend between kopi — a popular style of coffee sweetened with condensed milk — and tea. It is one of many options available at Malaysian kopitiams, or coffee shops. Coffee and kopitiams have a long history in Malaysia dating back to the 1800s, when the shops became social hubs for low-income workers and immigrants. There, many cultural influences combined to create a variety of new drinks and meals, including this beloved fusion that is bitter, sweet, and creamy all at once. The addition of the word ais in this context simply indicates the iced variety of the beverage.

How to make ais kopi cham

While there are some kopitiams beginning to crop up in the United States, they are few and far-between. As such, your best bet for trying the beverage is to make it yourself. First, brew your tea by steeping the leaves in hot water according to their brewing instructions. Next, add the sweetened condensed milk and stir until fully integrated. At this point, you can remove the tea leaves from the mixture, either by taking out the tea bags or by straining the liquid if you used loose leaf tea. Next, add an equal amount of coffee as you have tea to create a one-to-one ratio. Let the entire thing cool, then pour it over ice and enjoy.

There are some variations you can experiment with when making ais kopi cham. The primary one is by selecting different types of tea to change the flavor. It is traditional to use a black tea such as Assam or Ceylon, but others can be used based on your preference and your caffeine tolerance. The other adjustment commonly made is in the ratio of coffee to tea. Many kopitiams tend to add more tea than coffee, sometimes even double the amount. Depending on your own palate, however, you may wish to add more coffee instead.