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 mainstream tea in the US has its origins in the British tradition, focusing on black teas such as Ceylon, Darjeeling, Assam, and Earl Grey. The teas served in Chinese restaurants are often quite different, often representing 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 teas, reflecting a fusion of the different styles of tea most commonly served in Chinese restaurants.
Cantonese restaurants, such as those serving dim sum (numerous small plates, often with meatballs, served a la carte), and many of the common eateries in the Chinatowns of large cities like New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, often they serve Pu-erh tea, or a mix of Pu-erh with chrysanthemum flowers. In reference to this phenomenon, a brand of tea, Foojoy, sells Chrysanthemum Pu-erh under the name “Dim Sum Bo Nay Tea”.
Choose 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 shop with a good selection of loose tea, this may be a good option. However, most Americans don’t have this luxury and must resort to buying from an online retailer. Buying tea online, where you don’t get to see or smell the leaf, can be a bit intimidating if you’re not familiar with the different tea varieties. 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 tea or pouchong) 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, which gives it a more roasted quality than Japanese vegetables; Some Chinese green teas have a faint smoky aroma, as the tea is baked in woks heated over wood fires. wow the tea is a post-fermented tea, which means that it is often aged and improves with age. Pu-erh has an earthy aroma and mild flavor that pairs well with chrysanthemum flowers.
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 buy any of these teas is to buy them in loose leaf form. For people who can’t find them in a local store, these tea varieties are available through online retailers.