Phuket and Diversity in Tea and Coffee Shops
The diversity of cultural influences on tea and coffee culture in Phuket, Thailand
The island of Phuket located on the Andaman Sea in the South of Thailand has enjoyed a good cup of tea and coffee for a long time. Tea came to Phuket via Sri Lankan and Indian influences as far back as the 8th-century, in fact the word for tea used to this day in Phuket is “Ceylon.” Arab merchants around the 16th century used the island as a stopover on their way to the Spice Islands. They brought Islamism as well as coffee with them.
A typical day in Phuket for a local will start at the fresh market on Rassada Road. Here, amid the bustling fruit and vegetable stalls, it is possible to enjoy a hot and strong cup of “Ceylon” accompanied by some roti or Indian pancake sweetened with condensed milk. This is local Phuket breakfast at its best.
On Talang Road, in the heart of the old town, you will find some of the most interesting places to sample hot beverages. At Arun, a local Muslim restaurant, the specialty is pulled tea or teh tarik. This popular drink in India and Malaysia is a strong, frothy tea made with condensed milk. The trick is to pour the tea so as to let it fall a distance from one container to another. This action makes the tea airy and frothy. While there, don’t forget to ask them to go to the kitchen and watch how it is made. It’s quit a sight!
Also on Talang Road there are several kopitiams. This term, as used in Singapore, Penanag and Phuket, means a place to have a fast meal and some coffee. At the kopitiam on Talang Road, they serve their coffee piping hot and with a generous dose of condensed milk. It is a strong cup so just one will keep you moving for a while!
Further down the street on Krabi Road is i46. Khun Nong runs this small coffee and teahouse. His family has been living at this beautiful Chinese shophouse for five generations. Going into his shophouse means literally entering their family home. Amidst family portraits on the walls, guests can take some time to drink a cup (or two) of Chinese tea and converse with Nong about Phuket and his family.
Cake Box is a coffee shop in another converted shop house on Talang Road. Come here for a short and strong cup of espresso and watch the Thai university students work on their homework while they get their caffeine fix. Since Phuket old town is still not on the main tourist circuit, the atmosphere is very local and congenial. While on our signature tours in Phuket, travelers can experience a day in the life of a Phuket local.
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