Updated: Apr 19, 2021
A Malaysia version of the Chinese Hokkien medicinal herbal soup slowly brewed in a concoction of Chinese herbs and spices, pork bones and pork meat.
"Bak Kut Teh" is a Chinese Hokkien word. "Bak" refers to a type of meat. "Kut" means bone, and "teh" means tea. But, there is no "tea" in the ingredient of making "bak kut teh". The logic of the word "tea" comes from drinking Chinese tea with "bak kut teh". As I remember when I was growing up in Penang, "bak kut teh" was available only in the morning as a morning tea meal in a traditional Chinese "tea house". Just like eating "dim sum" or "yum cha". This morning ritual is to restore the "qi" energy and vitality in our bodies before we start the day. Now, "bak kut teh" in Penang, Malaysia is rarely available in the morning, but more as an afternoon and evening meal. I am not sure why this has changed over time.
In Malaysia, the "bak kut teh" version has a strong flavour and taste from the Chinese herbs and spices. Traditionally, "bak kut teh" is made from scratch mixing the different Chinese herbs to balance the "yin-yang" and "qi" energy of the body. Now, anyone can make "bak kut teh" at home using a pre-packaged "bak kut teh" ingredients available at any good Asian supermarkets, just like buying a ready-made curry paste. The most popular "bak kut teh" Malaysia brand is the "A1" brand, a simplified version of homemade bak kut teh.
Although if you are interested to know how I made the "bak kut teh" from scratch and not from the package, I have a detailed written recipe on my RECIPE page and a video on my YouTube channel to show you how. I have even summarised a list of the Chinese medicinal herbs for making the "bak kut teh" herbal soup in the document below.