Tea Culture in Indonesia

MISCELANY 06.07.2014

Not many people know that tea as a beverage favored by many in the world has built its own culture. Indeed, tea is not only a mere drink. For example, the procedures for drinking tea in Japan, is not the same as in Indonesia. For the people of Indonesia, there are no uniform rules for enjoying tea. Each area has a different way of brewing and presenting it.

Eva Nainggolan, a Public Relations from one of the producers of tea in the country said, in Indonesia, the culture of tea drinking is not less interesting than in other countries. For example, in Tegal, Central Java, the tradition of enjoying tea has been known from generation to generation. In this area, tea is brewed with hot water in a small pot made of clay, added with some rock sugar. The sugar should not be stirred, just let is lay on the bottom of the pot. The black tea must be enjoyed while it is hot, with a strong scent of jasmine flowers and tastes quite strong. This is known as wasgitel which is abbreviation of wang (fragrant), Sepet (strong slightly tangy), legi (sweet) and kentel (thick).

In other areas such as West Sumatra, there is another unique culture in brewing tea, known as "Talua Tea", which is literarily means Tea Egg . Here the tea is brewed and mixed with a raw egg. Raw egg yolk is beaten, poured with hot tea.

Founder of the Indonesian Tea Circle community, Lily Tjahjandari, sees tea culture declines in society. Although the majority of Indonesian people drink tea every day, but tea culture is something that has not been acknowledged as part of national culture. Lily who is also a lecturer at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Indonesia (UI) said even in tea parties held by the state or official agencies, tea culture has not been used. The tea party tend to be so simple and regular, and even tend to adopt the tea party from abroad. While in fact, traditional drinking culture in Indonesia is never far from the spices, including tea drinking.

For that reason, recently a tea festival titled 'Nusantara International Tea Festival' was organized in Kota Tua or the old city of Jakarta. The event was held from 19 to 22 June 2014. At the festival, visitors could enjoy a variety of tea drinking traditions and know the types of tea from Indonesia and foreign countries. Currently, Indonesia is the fourth largest tea producer in the world.