In most traditional Chinese restaurants, tea is usually served with food unless you choose not to have it. The three common ones, namely Teh kuan yin tastes clearer with fragrance, Oolong stronger and more solvent, and Daffodil being the purest of them all. However, they are usually mixed and the original flavor is missing.
The differences between types of Chinese tea are caused by variations in processing methods as well as the geographic location of the tea plantations where the soil and weather conditons play an important role.
Types of tea available:
White tea is made from immature tea leaves that are picked shortly before the buds have fully opened. The tea takes its name from the silver fuzz that still covers the buds, which turns white when steamed. As such, it undergoes even less processing than green tea leaves. A pale white tea like peony tea has a sweet, silky flavor. As it can be costly, black tea is usually mixed to derive darker colour and richer flavour.
Leaving tea leaves so close to their natural state means that white tea contains more polyphenols, the powerful antioxidant that helps to boost body’s immune system in warding off viruses and dangerous infection-causing bacteria. This includes clearing heat and phlegm in respiratory system and thus beneficial for those with coughs and smoke. Order it with any fried or deep fried food.
As the highest grade, genuine screw shaped green tea is only offered in fine dining restaurants. Produced only in Jiangsu Province’s DongTing Mountain, it is the rarest green tea in China, with harvest of 1,000 kilograms annually. Fresh leaves handpicked must be consumed within 6-12 months, depending on the quality. Thereafter it turns bad if is tasteless, solvent or extremely bitter. Note even when it is fresh, it tastes more bitter than other types. Another well known name is Longjing from the West Lake. Its poorer cousin is Loong Cheng.
Green tea leaves are light to dark green in color and brew into a light green infusion. It undergoes minimal oxidation during processing. Raw tea leaves are heated, rolled and dried without fermentation. This enables the leaves to keep their original color and retain their naturally occurring antioxidants, which according to recent research can help reduce the risk of cancer and slow down the aging process.
Sugary food pairs well with tea of bitter form by moderating the sweetness. Also it aids in lowering cholesterol levels and breaking fats down. To maintain its fragrance on subsequent brews, such teas need to be heated up to about 75-85 degrees only.
Black tea is the sort fully fermented and renowned by its red liquid. Basic making procedures of black tea include withering, rolling, fermentation and drying. In comparison to other tea categories, black tea generally produces a more full-bodied flavor.
Pu-er tea originates from Yunnan. Like wine. the longer is stored, the richer its flavor. Storage for at least three to six years is optimal. However, regular pu-erh teas served at restaurants have generally been modified during the fermentation process to reduce storage time. By so doing, the original fragrance and flavour is lost. To check out, good pu-erh tea should look very smooth and deep red in colour, not blackish.
It goes well with any dim sum containing lard added to enhance flavour and fragrance for ability to remove grease and thus improve blood circulation.
High quality Oolong tea should be fragrant with a fruity flavor and a pleasant aroma. Hence, tea lovers relish by featuring a whole set of tea wares from a small oven to a pot and tiny cups known as kongful tea. Several sub-varieties of oolong, including those produced in the Wuyi Mountains of northern Fujian, such as Da Hong Pao, are among the most famous Chinese teas.
Health benefits of oolong tea include the reduction of chronic health conditions such as heart disease, inflammatory disorders and high cholesterol levels, while providing vital antioxidants, promoting superior bone structure, robust skin and good dental health.
Cultivated in the Shantou and Fujian province, Teh Kuan Yin tea is a premium variety, harvested by hand from high altitude tea orchards and is the oolong tea of choice among the Chinese. Natural plant nutrients, such as antioxidants are preserved in this semi-oxidized tea providing several health and lifestyle benefits.
As it has a bitter sweet effect, teochew restaurants like to serve with their spicy dishes.
Aside from pu-erh tea which is almost odourless, quality tea should always give off a fragrant smell. If the smell emitted is weak or exhibited solvent texture, likely already expired or near expiry date.
Never drink tea on an empty stomach. Always drink tea during or after a meal. Given the high acidity of our stomach and alkalinity of tea, the combination can create a bloating effect.
Drinking tea is a personal preference matter on type of tea and the water temperature to apply. Whilst some prefer their tea to be brewing hot, others may like theirs lukewarm.