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Chinese restaurants take tea seriously?


SteveW
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Personally I'm not aware of many Chinese restaurants (I can't think of any), that take serving Chinese tea seriously. Are there much Chinese restaurants that serve high quality tea to their customers(anywhere in the world)? Tea is such an integral part of the diining experience at Chinese restaurants, that they should taking serving tea seriously.

-Steve

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Why, what's wrong with the typical black tea or jasmine tea most chinese restaurants serve?

For the most part as it relates to Chinese culture, high quality tea is something you serve in your household... Chinese restaurants could never afford to serve the top quality stuff at the quantities they serve at.

The best green, oolong and jasmine is pretty much reserved for private consumption.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Personally I'm not aware of many Chinese restaurants (I can't think of any), that take serving Chinese tea seriously. Are there much Chinese restaurants that serve high quality tea to their customers(anywhere in the world)? Tea is such an integral part of the diining experience at Chinese restaurants, that they should taking serving tea seriously. 

-Steve

Some good Chinese restaurants do, even in the US. Koi Palace, just outside San Francisco, for example, has an excellent "Tea List" (below). Mind you this is a full-service restaurant, not a teahouse. I usually order the longjing ("Dragon Well") and it is of a very good quality.

tea01.gif

tea02.gif

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In upper class Chinese restaurant in HK, they do serve serious tea. I think good tea is important for dim sum mostly, because there are so many deep fried and oily food that tea is needed to cut the fat.

I went to the Spring Moon at the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong, and there was over 20 varieties of tea. They also have trained tea professionals to serve you. I usually get Iron Buddha with the dim sum meal and a cup of Chrysanthemum tea at the end.

If you want more serious and different varieties of tea, there are many tea house in Asia. I heard that the tea and coffee culture is really prosperous in Taiwan. But I agree that normal tea is okay for everyday use, the good stuff is usually hidden in a collection bin. I know that really good Iron Buddha tea can cost around $20000/500g.

Edited by Yuki (log)
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I am not sure if it is true but I read that Pu-erh is one of the rare tea that taste better if they have been aged for many years. There are stores selling pu-erh tea that is over 50 years old.

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I went to the Spring Moon at the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong, and there was over 20 varieties of tea. They also have trained tea professionals to serve you. I usually get Steel Budda with the dim sum meal and a cup of Chrysanthemum tea at the end.

Yuki, at Spring Moon in Hong Kong, does that extend to serving fine aged soy sauces?

-Steve

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Not sure about fine aged soya sauce, but they probably use higher quality soya sauce than most restaurant. If you want to test out the soya sauce and the ability of the chef, order soya sauce fried noodles. It is a really simple dish but only a few restaurant could produce a good one. I don't think I have ever seen restaurant bring out a dish of soya sauce to the customer though ........ maybe for hot pot but it is usually mixed in with other ingredients by the customer.

Actually I don't think soya sauce is something that is aged becuase I see an expiry date on the bottle. Also when I buy soya sauce, there is no advertisement on the bottle saying how long it have been aged so I assume it is not important. Most soya sauce advertise by their purpose or taste from sweet to salty, and light to rich.

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Some good Chinese restaurants do, even in the US. Koi Palace, just outside San Francisco, for example, has an excellent "Tea List" (below). Mind you this is a full-service restaurant, not a teahouse. I usually order the longjing ("Dragon Well") and it is of a very good quality.

tea02.gif

Wait did that say monkey picked? AWESOME.

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I believe Sweet-n-Tart in NYC Chinatown offers a wide variety of teas, although they tend to focus on those sago drinks there.

The cafe adjoining the Ten Ren tea shop NYC Chinatown of course offers a ton of teas on their menu as well.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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In upper class Chinese restaurant in HK, they do serve serious tea. I think good tea is important for dim sum mostly, because there are so many deep fried and oily food that tea is needed to cut the fat.

I agree with you on that. At Koi Palace I go for the good tea with dim sum. At dinner time, I'm ready for a beer and the tea is secondary. But it's nice that there's even a range of very drinkable teas on the complimentary list at KP. The amazing thing is that this restaurant is really not very expensive. I spent three months on assignment in Hong Kong and I know that "high-end" Chinese food in HK means $$$$$$.

Re: the Peninsula. It's on my sh*t list. I went there to meet a family friend (he owns a dress shop there) for dinner, and they woudn't even let me in the lobby because I was wearing shorts. No matter that it was 95 F and 90% humidity...

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In upper class Chinese restaurant in HK, they do serve serious tea. I think good tea is important for dim sum mostly, because there are so many deep fried and oily food that tea is needed to cut the fat.

I agree with you on that. At Koi Palace I go for the good tea with dim sum. At dinner time, I'm ready for a beer and the tea is secondary. But it's nice that there's even a range of very drinkable teas on the complimentary list at KP. The amazing thing is that this restaurant is really not very expensive. I spent three months on assignment in Hong Kong and I know that "high-end" Chinese food in HK means $$$$$$.

Re: the Peninsula. It's on my sh*t list. I went there to meet a family friend (he owns a dress shop there) for dinner, and they woudn't even let me in the lobby because I was wearing shorts. No matter that it was 95 F and 90% humidity...

I remembered going to the Peninsula for tea with my aunts when I was younger. I think they are more relax now..... I saw some people walking in the lobby with shorts on but they are ladies. Not sure about man, maybe if you shave your leg they might let you in. :wink:

The rule for not letting customers wearing shorts into nicer restuarant is understandable, but putting the rule in effect at the lobby is kind of pushing it. The truth is my dad never wore shorts into any hotel, it is always long pants.

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Tea is such an integral part of the diining experience at Chinese restaurants, that they should taking serving tea seriously.

Says who? Beer, bai jiu, Sprite, and Coke/Pepsi are also an integral part of the dining experience at Chinese restaurants, arguably more so than tea. Tea at a restaurant in China typically means a glass tumbler or ceramic cup slogged with lu cha or hong cha. While nicer establishments might offer a selection of teas and you may find yourself in a place where your ba bao cha is refilled by waiters shooting water halfway across the table from copper kettles with ridiculuosly long spouts, if you're speaking of a ritualized presentation, preparation, and service of tea in restaurants, then the discussion narrows to dim sum houses and the south/southeastern region of China (Guangdong, Hong Kong, etc.). Otherwise, you need to head for a teahouse, but then again, in Sichuan, where folks take tea pretty seriously, crowded outdoor teahouses are nothing much more than (relatively) fresh air, bamboo chairs, the sounds of teeth cracking sunflower seeds, and a bottomless, usually chipped or cracked cup of lu cha, perfect for whiling the afternoon away chatting, playing majiang, discussing business, or just soaking up the atmosphere.

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Re: the Peninsula. It's on my sh*t list. I went there to meet a family friend (he owns a dress shop there) for dinner, and they woudn't even let me in the lobby because I was wearing shorts. No matter that it was 95 F and 90% humidity...

I haven't been to many places in the US that offer different teas (but thats just DC and Chicago), but in China almost every restaurant outside of small neighborhood places will offer a few choices of teas, some with pretty fancy ones. The nicer restaurants will usually have around 10 teas to choose from with a few high priced selections. But while tea is typically good with lunch or a dim sum brunch, with dinner, as chengdude mentioned, tea is often the side attraction to beer or other alcohol.

Its my pet peeve about some of the "hipper" restaurants in Shanghai and HK that turn you back when wearing sandals, no matter the style, material, etc...

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I happen to be a nut for fresh longjing tea. I enjoy sipping an endless glass of it, though generally not in the context of dining. The arrival of Qing Ming is as important to me as the arrival of baseball season (which comes about the same time) because it means that the new crop is being picked.

Todd & Holland has pre-Qing Ming and early Spring longjing tea, hand carried by Bill Todd, available as of TODAY. He also brought back pre-Qing Ming biluochun (my second favorite) from the third production day, the youngest he's ever been able to get. I've got my order in already!

longjing.jpg

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What's the name of that one Chinese tea that comes in a ball, and then when you drop it in hot water, it blossoms into a flower? My friend brought back some from Taiwan but I was wondering if it was avail in the U.S.

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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What's the name of that one Chinese tea that comes in a ball, and then when you drop it in hot water, it blossoms into a flower?  My friend brought back some from Taiwan but I was wondering if it was avail in the U.S.

Are you talking about cluster teas? They are actually several tea leaves tied together which unfurl to reveal a flower inside. (Todd & Holland classify them as "performance teas"). They can be made with any variety of green tea leaves and can be found in fine tea shops in the US.

Or are you thinking about "gunpowder" tea? (No actual flower inside, just leaves furled into a ball before roasting.)

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I had this kind of tea recently at a friend's house. She says it's sold in a park in Shanghai. Inside is an actual flower. It was wonderful. I've forgotten the name of it. :huh:

Can anyone tell me the Chinese name for this so that I can put it on my wish list for friends going to China? Thanks!

Edited by bleudauvergne (log)
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