Last Updated: July 30, 2019
Have you had the best teh in Singapore? Mr Asgar proudly heads Bhai Sarbat at Bugis with an infectious smile and promises nothing but the best cup of pulled tea you will ever have.
Mr Asgar took over the beloved stall from his uncle two years ago, inheriting the honourable reputation and cult mass following attached to it. Affectionately referred to as ‘No-Name Teh Sarbat‘ for decades, he finally sought to refresh the brand’s name.
After networking with one of his customers, who now co-runs the shop’s Instagram page, he got a late start at trying out Instagram at 49 years old. The man now boasts an impressive 1,700+ follower count on @bhaisarbat posting pictures of his customers enjoying tea. So wholesome.
Mr Asgar still wakes up just before dawn to open up the shop for kitchen prep as the teas need time to steep and develop their complex flavours. He observes morning prayers before leaving the house and then shows up exactly at the right time to receive homemade outsourced meal packets of Nasi Sambal Goreng (S$4), a crowd favourite, while also preparing the space of operations for a whole day at the shop. Religion is what keeps him grounded, he says.
We ordered the standard Teh Tarik (S$1.10) and Teh Halia (S$1.20) or otherwise known hot ginger tea, being by far the two most popular drinks among patrons. Mr Asgar made them at the stall counter, showcasing his far-and-beyond range of skill by pulling the tea from a height of half a metre above his head.
In theory, this pulling tea technique helps cool the tea so that by the time the cups reach your table, you’d be able to enjoy it right away without scalding your mouth. The process also creates an aesthetical frothy layer on top akin to milk foam you find in a delectable cup of cappuccino.
I carried the cup to one of the free tables and immediately took a sip; the intense flavours hit you right away. The black tea essence mixed well with the milky foundation of the drink to give me a perfect fusion of the two. Best enjoyed as a hot beverage, the warmth helped to carry the spice notes of the drink for a complex tasting experience.
The Teh Halia featured a potent ginger profile that elevated the drink to possess a quality that lightly warmed my throat as it went down.
A version of Teh Tarik Iced (S$1.80) exists as an ice-cool alternative to the regular Teh Tarik. The drink was deliciously addictive because of just how smooth it was. The sweetness came through, but the beverage needed that touch of sweetness to balance the milkiness of a much larger cup.
Mr Asgar pulled out a surprise and had us have his original concocted Masala Tea (S$1.60) that’s currently not listed on the shop’s printed menu. Insider scoop: it’s an off-menu item! He recommended it as his best drink and admitted that it’s only been around since he took over.
A specially-curated masala spice blend is bloomed in a pot off the compound and then packed to take it to the shop. It is then added to a cup before the hot steeped black tea is poured into it. Finishing it off like all the other variations, a generous spoonful of condensed milk is mixed in to complete the drink.
The Masala Tea really had a prominent Indian spicy element that really did much to enhance the full composition of the drink. It felt a lot sharper and is admittedly requires an acquired palate. I fully enjoyed it personally and will be ordering more of it for when I return.
The second-generation stall owner nonchalantly goes about his day as a welcoming presence. His sincerity and chatty nature make him a well-loved character within the district. He soaks up much of the attention too.
The proclaimed title for the best teh in Singapore is backed up all the way with obvious skill from dedicated years of training.
Expected Damage: S$1.10 – S$1.80 per pax
Our Rating: 5 / 5
21 Bussorah Street, Singapore 199442
21 Bussorah Street, Singapore 199442