Bak Kut Teh or literally Pork Ribs Tea has achieved such ubiquity in Singapore and Malaysia during my formative years that it was only recently that I realized it was in fact unique to this part of the world. In fact, in an article I read regarding tea cultures of the world, it was highlighted as uniquely Singapore.
For the uninitiated, Bak Kut Teh (BKT as locals often call it) is pork ribs soup, often cooked with pepper to give it a spicy flavor. Where does the tea come in? For the older generation at least, drinking tea was synonymous with this dish, a heavy oily dish that begged for Chinese tea to emulsify the fat. Perhaps it was also that the early originators were migrants from Fujian which is the most important producer of oolong teas in the world.
In any case, if you were enjoying BKT at a traditional outlet, you can expect to see this stove beside your food.
The tea set comes with a small tea pot and 5 gongfu style cups in a stainless steel tea plate. Aesthetics aside, this is pretty effective, especially considering the table would largely be reserved for the food.
Nevertheless, the guilt factor was alleviated because I kept washing it down with the Bu Zhi Xiang.
Brewing tea and Bak Kut Teh seemed like the perfect accompaniment, a uniquely Singaporean and Malaysian gastronomic experience.