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

Angela Roberta Dec 8, 2006 08:48 PM

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

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    fauchon RE: Angela Roberta Dec 8, 2006 08:50 PM

    Maybe a keemun....nm

    1. twiggles RE: Angela Roberta Dec 8, 2006 08:55 PM

      possibly an oolong tea?

      3 Replies
      1. re: twiggles
        Candy RE: twiggles Dec 8, 2006 09:00 PM

        Oolong would be to delicate for restaurant tea.

        1. re: Candy
          moto RE: Candy Dec 8, 2006 09:13 PM

          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
            Mike R. RE: moto Dec 8, 2006 09:20 PM

            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.

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        allegro805 RE: Angela Roberta Dec 8, 2006 09:18 PM

        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. limster RE: Angela Roberta Dec 8, 2006 09:50 PM

          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. pikawicca RE: Angela Roberta Dec 9, 2006 01:18 AM

            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.

            1. choctastic RE: Angela Roberta Dec 9, 2006 01:28 AM

              isn't that old restaurant tea just jasmine tea? you can get that anywhere.

              6 Replies
              1. re: choctastic
                Caroline1 RE: choctastic Jul 5, 2008 08:01 PM

                Exactly. Jasmine tea was the standard for most of the 20th century, though green tea was always available on request.

                1. re: Caroline1
                  Miss Needle RE: Caroline1 Jul 6, 2008 07:46 AM

                  I remember that as well. That's when I started to fall in love with jasmine tea.

                  1. re: Miss Needle
                    Caroline1 RE: Miss Needle Jul 6, 2008 08:00 AM

                    To paraphrase the old nursery rhyme, "When it's good, it's very very good, but when it's bad it's horrid." I've been fortunate and had mostly good. I would most often order both teas, green to drink with the meal, jasmine to drink after. When I lived in Turkey, I had a real honest to god jasmine tree. It was amazing to be heading home of a balmy evening and smell my balcony two blocks away! Neighbors loved it too. And fresh jasmine makes amazzzzing tea!

                    1. re: Caroline1
                      Miss Needle RE: Caroline1 Jul 6, 2008 08:10 AM

                      Oh, how lucky you were to have your own jasmine tree! One of my girlfriends gave me some jasmine flowers from her garden and we made tea out of it. Heavenly!

                      1. re: Miss Needle
                        Caroline1 RE: Miss Needle Jul 6, 2008 08:53 AM

                        They're not all that difficult to grow. The only problem with them is that you have to love living with their perfume! The one I had in Turkey was night blooming jasmine and it bloomed in the evening, then all of the blooms fell off when the sun rose, so living with it wasn't a 24/7 sort of thing. You can dry the flowers in a really slow oven, then seal them in an air tight container for future tea. Or you can mix it with the tea, then store. Delicious either way.

                  2. re: Caroline1
                    livetocook RE: Caroline1 Jul 6, 2008 09:14 AM

                    That's what I was thinking too. The standard was/is always jasmine tea at the Chinese/Vietnamese restaurants here.

                2. m
                  mshpook RE: Angela Roberta Dec 9, 2006 06:42 PM

                  I always thought that old time chinese restaurant tea (at least in the NYC area) was Swee-Touch-Nee. I still see it sold in some supermarkets in the NYC area. Am I mistaken?

                  1. b
                    Bagel dog RE: Angela Roberta Jul 4, 2008 12:36 PM

                    Dear AR:

                    Don't know whether you found an answer to your Chinese Restaurant Tea search. I too have been looking for the tea served in the NYC Chinese Restaurants of my youth (circa 1950's and 60's).

                    The latest possibility is "Dynasty Chinese Restaurant Tea," which I've found online. I I haven't tried it yet, but am planning to order soon.

                    Would appreciate hearing about other finds.

                    Good hunting: Bagel Dog

                    1. f
                      fuuchan RE: Angela Roberta Jul 5, 2008 09:41 PM

                      From what I've seen in most Chinese restaurants, the default tea given is a rather cheap pu'er tea. It tends to have a woody, musty taste.

                      I don't know if this is what you mean by "black tea"

                      Oolong or chrysanthemum tea is usually available if you ask, of course.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: fuuchan
                        StephP RE: fuuchan Jul 6, 2008 12:07 PM

                        yup. that's what i think has been served for a long time at least since the early eighties.

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