Kitchai Ping: The Popular Limeade Drink Found all over Sabah
Kitchai Ping is a popular iced drink found all over Sabah. It is Sabah’s own version of lemonade, but made with calamansi (also known as calamondin) limes instead. This drink is very common in Sabah due to its abundance supply of calamansi limes, which is native to the Borneo and Phillipines. This drink is so commonly served by the Chinese locals in their kopitiams and eateries that even the non-Chinese locals are calling it by its Chinese name. The name “kit chai” is the Hakka word for the green-skinned lime, and “ping” means that it is iced.
The making of the Kitchai Ping is very simple. The ingredients are a few calamansi limes, sugar, and asam boi (dried sour plum). The limes are cut and their juice are squeezed into a mug. The spent lime fruits are also thrown into the mug for further muddling to release more flavours. Sugar and the asam boi are added next. Hot water is then poured into the mug one-third of the way to dissolve the sugar, rehydrate the asam boi and release some of the fragrant oil from the limes’ skin. Lastly, plenty of ice is added to bring down the temperature before serving. The result is a very refreshing drink that will kick start your senses and increase your appetite. The acidity of the lime and the slight saltiness from the asam boi work really well together to counter the sweetness of the sugar. There is also another version of Kitchai Ping, called Kitchai Ping Honey, which is served with honey instead of normal cane sugar.
There is a similar drink in other Malaysian states called Jus Limau Kasturi Asam Boi (Bahasa Malaysia) or Kat Chai Suen Mui (Cantonese).