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Chinese Restaurant Tea – What teas are served in Chinese restaurants?

Many Americans greatly enjoy the tea served in Chinese restaurants. Because China has a much richer and more active tea culture than the United States, the teas served in Chinese restaurants tend to be of a higher quality than what a typical American is used to drinking. Also, for historical reasons, most conventional tea in the US traces its origins to the British tradition, focusing on black teas like Ceylon, Darjeeling, Assam, and Earl Grey. The teas served in Chinese restaurants are often quite different and often represent some people’s first exposure to the styles and varieties most commonly consumed in China and throughout Southeast Asia.

What types of tea are served in Chinese restaurants?

There is no single standard type of tea served in Chinese restaurants; rather, several different varieties are regularly served in this setting. In typical American Chinese restaurants, the most common teas served are oolong and jasmine tea. Green tea is sometimes served, as is Pu-erh. One brand of tea, Dynasty, actually markets a Chinese restaurant tea, which is a blend of oolong, jasmine, and green tea, reflecting a fusion of the different styles of tea most often served in Chinese restaurants.

Cantonese restaurants, such as those that serve dim sum (numerous small plates, often with dumplings, served a la carte), and many of the common restaurants in Chinatowns in large cities such as New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, often serve Pu-erh tea, or a mixture of Pu-erh with chrysanthemum flowers. In reference to this phenomenon, a tea brand, Foojoy, sells Chrysanthemum Pu-erh under the name “Dim Sum Bo Nay Tea”.

Choosing oolong, pu-erh, jasmine, and other teas:

Although some restaurants use tea bags, many use loose leaf tea, and the best teas are usually only available in loose leaf form. If you are lucky enough to live near a specialty loose leaf tea shop or an Asian store with a good selection of loose tea, this may be a good choice. However, most Americans do not have this luxury and must resort to purchasing from an online retailer. Buying tea online, where you don’t have the chance to see or smell the leaf, can be a bit intimidating if you’re not familiar with the different varieties of tea. A little background information can go a long way in knowing what to buy.

oo long, also sometimes spelled “wu long” is a partially oxidized tea, intermediate between green and black teas. Many oolongs served in Chinese restaurants are roasted quite heavily, giving them a dark color and roasted aroma. Jasmine tea It is a floral-scented tea, made by blending tea leaves (usually green or pouchong tea) with jasmine flowers. It has a strong floral aroma, often described as perfumed. chinese green tea it is very diverse, but most of it is cooked in a pan, giving it a more roasted quality than Japanese vegetables; Some Chinese green teas have a slight smoky aroma, as the tea is baked in woks heated over wood fires. puerh the tea is a post-fermented tea, which means it is often aged and gets better with age. Pu-erh has an earthy aroma and mild flavor that pairs well with chrysanthemum flowers.

In summary:

There is no one type of tea that is universally served in Chinese restaurants in the United States; however, oolong, jasmine, Chinese green tea, and Pu-erh are common types served, with Chrysanthemum Pu-erh being especially common in Cantonese restaurants serving dim sum. The best way to purchase any of these teas is to purchase them in loose leaf form. For people who can’t find them in a local store, these tea varieties are available through online retailers.

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