Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Dec 8, 2006 08:48 PM

Decades ago, the tea in Chinese restaurants was black...

Not the green tea you get today. What would I have to buy to get that great old black-tea taste?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
      1. re: twiggles

        Oolong would be to delicate for restaurant tea.

        1. re: Candy

          hello, oolongs run a big range,from nearly green(slightly oxidized/enzymized) to nearly black (blacks are fully oxidized/fermented)with fuller body, and there were/are cheap 'restaurant grade' oolongs used in some places. The better dim sum places will sometimes offer a choice of jasmine (mistakenly considered green, actually pu chong scented with jasmine flowers) or pu er (po nay) which is a deeply fermented and compressed black (the Chinese consider it red from the color of the infusion rather than the leaf). As fauchon notes, keemuns are used in restaurants, but a fair number of inexpensive places us commercial tea bagswhich aren't always Chinese teas. enjoy

          1. re: moto

            In NYC anyway, we never have a problem getting sweetened (with rock candy) chrysanthemum flower tea.

            And I suspect that a whole range of other exotics are available if you just ask...otherwise, they'll just serve you the house tea and it's generally a wicked witches brew.

      2. My personal fave blend, and what I think might fit the bill of what you're looking for is YUNNAN, which has a hint of smoky leaves blended in. Not anywhere near as strong as a Lapsang Souchong, which is at the strongest end of the spectrum.

        1. If you're looking for something very strong and robust, I'd consider a pu-erh, a fermented tea from Yunnan. Like wine, prices can vary from something very affordable to tens of thousands of dollars per pounds from tea with several decades or more of aging.

          1. Well, I can remember back almost 5 decades in SF Chinatown, and the tea is the same. We kids always called it "fish tea," because, well, it smelled slightly of fish, and still does. My Mom and Dad, both SF natives, said it reminded them of their childhood excursions into Chinatown with their parents. I think the color may have been darker, but the taste is the same.