Malaysian Astronaut and Teh Tarik – The Truth


(Who have thought the prospect of doing a teh tarik in space? photo source:

When the idea of sending astronauts into space was mooted and deliberated, I joked about it. I was wondering what in the earth that Malaysian Astronauts would be doing up in space. One of things that looked “viable” was doing a “teh tarik” in space. That remained as a joke until couple days ago and I would not have believed the story if it was not reported in the Reuters.

Malaysia will send its first astronaut into the heavens aboard a Russian rocket next year and attempt for the first time to make the nation’s favorite hot drink, teh tarik, in space. “The physics experiment is to see what happens to teh tarik in space,” Haniff Omar, head of Malaysia’s astronaut selection program, told reporters in all seriousness on Monday after two Malaysian men were short-listed to make the trip.

Making teh tarik (pulled tea) can be tricky and dangerous, even with the help of gravity. Malaysians pour boiling-hot milky tea swiftly and repeatedly from one vessel held high in one hand into another held low, producing a distinctive layer of froth. Making teh tarik in space would bring Malaysian customs to the attention of a worldwide audience, said Faiz Khaleed, one of the two astronaut candidates.

“Teh tarik is one of the symbols of Malaysia,” he said. “I think this is a good idea also to bring something from our country so the world can learn something about our country.”

Running through the Blogsphere, there not much “Malaysia Boleh” support on this little but expensive “experiment” – Most condemn it; others clap their hands and say thanks for making Malaysia look stupid. I could not disagree more on this. Once in a lifetime opportunity and Malaysia decides to blow it away on something trivial as doing a teh tarik. It can be a “Malaysian” thing but come on, not at this level and cost.

But before we continue spit on that idea, let’s think back the facts again, shall we?

Fact One

It is going to be just one trip or rather one expensive trip. It is not like Malaysians can go up space several times for a longer period. The Russians are not engaging Malaysians as their full time astronauts. Unless of course, Malaysia decides to buy more military hardware from them or decides to share the cost of sending people up in space. That’s not going to happen but we will never know – we are talking about Malaysian Government, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Fact Two

What new experiments that we Malaysians could possibly do in space? Something that brilliant scientists in NASA, Europe, Russia and all over the world themselves had not done? The answer is nothing. So, forget about doing some mind boggling, scientifically challenged experiments that even scientist at NASA would sit up and take note.

So, what’s left?

The answer seems to be publicity. What more a better way to get people all over the world to take note of Malaysia if not by doing a teh tarik up in space? Yes, it may sound stupid (but that’s the idea) and the statements like “The physics experiment is to see what happens to teh tarik in space” are not that far from it.

The point is this works. Now, not matter where you go in the world, people will recognized Malaysia as the only country in the world to tried to make tea as part of “physics” experiment. They may have a good laugh over beer over this but it does not matter anyway. The important thing is Malaysia will be more famous than ever.

So, here’s a cup of teh tarik for the astronauts and the Malaysian Government for making it happen. Sigh. Tag: Malaysia

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