New Recipes

Bak Kut Teh Recipe (Pork Bone Tea Soup)

Bak Kut Teh
Bak Kut Teh pictures (2 of 3)

(Originally published in 2006, this post is updated with new photos.)

Bah Kut Teh or Pork Bone Tea is a Chinese soup dish. Infused with herbs such as Dong Quai, Cinnamon, Star Anise, and loaded with pork ribs, dried Shitake mushrooms, tofu puffs, and heaps of garlic, this soup fills the kitchen with evocative scents. Bah Kut Teh needs a couple hours of slow boiling and the end result is concoction perfumed with a sweet herbal and earthy flavor. It’s best cooked and served in a clay pot and eaten with plain white rice, yau char kway (Chinese crullers), a dish of stir-fried vegetables such as Chinese Greens in oyster sauce, and a small plate of chili plus soy sauce condiment…

If you make Bak Kut Teh at home, do save a bowl or two as your breakfast the following day. The interplay of these herbs, spices, and ingredients usually reaches its height the next morning and you will find that overnight Bak Kut Teh tastes even better than freshly made. Slurp the soup and savor each drip of the essence until there is no single drop left.

Intensely flavorful and hearty, Bak Kut Teh is certainly my cup of tea.

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39 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. Chris

    I went to Penang 1st time in my life two weeks ago, and I didn’t have much time to eat around. Your article definitely gives me useful info about where I can eat during my next trip to Penang again. Thank you so much.

    Let’s exchange links. Do let me know if you are interested in a friendly link, thanks again.

  2. fooDcrazEE

    sayang, it’ll be good to blanch the pork ribs first. looks good but the shiitake mushroom will kill the herb taste. go slow on that. keep it up. make me drool….chuckle!

  3. Audrey Cooks

    Did u cart that claypot all the way from Penang? just curious … anyway, BKT ingredient is just like VISA card, don’t leave home without it!

    Hey Mike! I knew u were gonna say that! no mushroom in BKT eh?

  4. Rasa Malaysia

    Chris – that’s exactly my idea of food blogging, to make readers hungry! Just kidding. LOL.

    Foodcrazee – yes, I hear you, but I soaked the mushrooms for hours to get rid of the mushroomy taste…hmm, but I didn’t write it down on my recipe…gotta change that. ;)

    Audrey Cooks – No, we can actually find Claypot in the US, so I bought it here. Hehe.

  5. Rasa Malaysia

    Lucia and Chris,

    Correct! But I also like the Tofu Puffs, mushrooms, etc. I like it that with it goes so well with white rice…

  6. Chubbypanda

    I’ve always liked the Malaysian name for this dish. But I must disagree. It’s not Pork Bone Tea. It’s Pork Bone Awesomeness.

    – Chubbypanda

  7. Anonymous

    Has anyone got any idea how can i get those spices in London? It’s my absoluty favourite dish – and just run out of bah kut tea! If you know where I can buy them or order them on line, please e-mail me on

  8. Anonymous

    Hi every one,

    I live in London. I miss Malaysian food very much. Could any one tell me where to get Malaysian Food in london. Specially Bak Kut Teh (Dark sauce). Yum Yum…

  9. Anonymous

    Went to Kota Kinabalu for the very first time this past spring, one of my most memorable food was bak kut teh. Thanks for posting this recipe.

  10. Lavv

    I just got back from Penang, I already miss Bak Kut teh. :(
    I’m going to have it for dinner tomorrow though! Yay!
    Where do you go for your Bak Kut Teh, I have to say that Zealand is very good.
    Also had a very good one in Cameron Highlands!

  11. Scotsman

    I am making Bak Kut Teh right now, but will turn it off before I go to bed and start again in the morning, it is already delicious, I can’t wait until it is ready.

    To the person in London who wants the herbs, go to Google put in Bak Kut Teh then look at what the Wikipedia link has to say about Bak Kut Teh herbs, then you can write them down and go out and find them at your local Asian market. The writer offers to sell them to us, but I don’t know if that means overseas?

    Mmmmm … the smell of this floating around my house is heavenly.

  12. Nicole

    Hi Rasa,

    I came across your site yesterday, and was impressed by your great photos of delicious Asian food. I am new in Singapore. I saw there were many BKT packets in the supermarket, but didn’t know which brand to choose. Could I get Veng Tatt Soon in Singapore? Which brand of BKT packet available in Singapore would you recommend? Thank you very much :-)

    • Peter Pantry Raider

      If there is a Chinese herbal medicine shop in your area, you can ask them for the herbs for bak kut teh and they will get those herbs and wrap them up for you. You can ask for more dong guai herbs if you prefer a stronger fragrance.

      You will need to wrap them in muslin or cheese cloth 1st before putting them to the boil unless you don’t mind straining them.

      You can add fish balls or beef balls into the BKT.

  13. Dwana Geml

    Extremely well-written. I like the conversational design used in writing this post a lot; usually it’s not my favorite but this one never loses connection with your reader.

  14. presa1200

    i saw other bak kut teh recipe calls for fresh sugarcane, fennel, dates, szechuan peppercorns, dried mandarin peels and luo han guo. do you think these ingredients will make bak kut teh tastes better?

  15. XueHong

    Hmm, can I just use a non-stick pot? I doubt I can carry claypot back to my accommodation. I know it be less yummy but I cant wait any longer before I can return home by the end of the year. If I am using non-stick pot, how long do I have to boil it?

    • Susan L

      Hi XueHong;
      I am a x-Malaysian, having been cooking this dish for the last 20+ years using normal cooking pot. Not claypot or non-stick pot. I had tried using claypot but do be very careful when using electric flat top stove, it cracked. Hope this helps.

  16. vivi

    hi, which is the best prepacked herbs??

    my hb prefer the malaysia taste de.

    he claim he will vomit whenever he eat bkt in singapore.

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