Bandung in Bandung?

The bandung drink is a well-loved beverage commonly found in Singapore and Malaysia. Distinctly bright pink in colour, it usually consists of rose syrup and milk.

Bandung also happens to be the name of a city in West Java, Indonesia.

Does the bandung drink, then, come from the city of Bandung?

It would actually be hard to find the bandung drink in Bandung. Most locals there would also be at a loss if you ask them for a bandung drink.

In fact, the origins of this drink—where it comes from, and why it is named ‘Bandung’, is pretty much a mystery up till today.

One story goes back to the British colonial days, centring on an Englishman in Singapore. The character in discussion had come across an Indian drink made up of rose extracts, but found it to be ‘foul-smelling’. He attempted adding black tea to the drink, but realized that the smell remained. He then tried the concoction of adding milk and sugar, and liked how the milk ‘thickened’ the drink and how the sugar masked the foul smell.

Upon prompts from fellow colleagues on how the drink was, he replied with ‘Banned Dung’, which his colleagues heard as ‘Bandung’—having just visited the city in West Java.

The bright pink hue of the drink is rumoured to be a result of street vendors wanting to differentiate the drink from teh tahrik (a drink consisting of milk and tea), thus adding pink colouring to the beverage that was originally already slight pink in hue.

The stories behind the bandung drink are hitherto from lore and hearsay, and are yet to be officially verified.

Further research and inquiry by official experts with credible sources need to be made in tracing the origin of bandung drink.

Until then, you can simply enjoy the taste of the saccharine sweet drink!

Contributor: Cai Yinghong, Associate, NLB

References:

Image: Kopi O, Bandung by Charles Haynes via Flickr


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