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tea with dim sum?

went to 888 in san gabriel for dim sum the other day and the waiter asked what kind of tea i wanted. what are my choices ? any recommendations? ate mostly steamed seafood and pork type dumpling, a couple of deep fried thing. thanks.

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  1. Ask if they have the "flower tea" (chrysanthemum). I think it goes very well with dimsum , moreso than the standard tea that is usually served.

    1. Depends on the restaurant. Ask them next time.

      1. standard fare in most san gabriel restaurants:

        jasmine, the cheapest selection and the default in most Chinese restaurants. If you like tea at casual Chinese spots, you'll like this.

        pu-er. a very dark black tea. Reputed to help with digestion, but usually turns so black so quickly it's not very appetizing.

        chrysanthemum. this is just dried flowers, no actual tea

        a combinatino of pu-er and chrysanthemum. I like the balance of the really dark tea and light flowers

        Ti Quan Yin (iron goddess of mercy), which is an oolong

        8 Replies
        1. re: Pei

          I'm very fond of pu-er in the morning. It's sort of my Chinese restaurant coffee substitute. They have a nice quality pu-er at 888.

          1. re: Pei

            I love Ti Guan Yin (which in Cantonese is "Tiet Kwun Yum"). It is a very dark, very aromatic, very pungent tea.

            Chrysanthemum, though, cuts best through the greasy saltiness.

            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              I personally alternate between Ti Guan Yin and Pu'er myself depending on the mood.

              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                In Hong Kong I always ordered Ti Guan Yin (called Iron Buddha where I usually had dim sum), and it came in very small saucers with rims. Dark, pungent, and delicious is the right description. I once brought a package home, but it wasn't the same -- no old men reading Chinese newspapers at six in the morning, I guess.

                1. re: Harry Nile

                  Chaozhou people (including those living in HK) and a lot of overseas Chinese prefer the heavy fired, more traditional roasted (and often higher oxidation) Tieguanyin. Tieguanyin just refers to the cultivar and usually also implies a certain style of rolling (twisted or ball-shaped).

                  What's popular on the mainland is the greener style that's been prevalent since around the early-mid 90s. The tea is technically still an oolong, but the processing is like the Taiwan gaoshan oolongs - low oxidation (I have heard they even pull off the red edge sometimes) and less or no roasting. The balling of the tea has also gotten much tighter, so the pellets are quite compact.

                  The demand for this newer style of Tieguanyin is really high, which means that finding *any* good Tieguanyin, but especially good high-fire Tieguanyin, is difficult. HK shops (Lam Kie Yuen, Best Tea House, Lau Yu Fat, Cheung Hing, etc., at least 2 of which have branches in the Vancouver area) tend to buy the raw tea processed to their specs, and then do the final roasting themselves. This is one of the more traditional teas for Chaozhou style gongfu (kungfu) tea, even though the local teas (Fenghaung Dancong, etc.) are also popular.

                  Other than really cheap quality stuff (Sea Dyke etc.) from the supermarket, it's difficult to find traditionally processed Tieguanyin in the US. Tea Gallery in NY (appointment only) carries a high fire one. Imperial Tea Court in the Bay area has a medium-fire, medium oxidation one. You do have to watch out when buying roasted Tieguanyin, because in many cases, it's just stale tea from last season that's been over-roasted... the main problem with this is that the tea base itself isn't processed the way it should be for this style of tea.

                2. re: Das Ubergeek

                  I like chrysanthemum but partially because it comes with rock candy.

                  1. re: chowser

                    Then you should see if your favourite dimsumería has baat po chaa (八寶茶, "eight treasures tea", Mandarin "ba bao cha"), which is chrysanthemum, cheap green tea, jujube, goji, longan, raisin, white fungus and rocksugar. It's very tasty but very sugary and not exactly, hm, subtle.

                3. re: Pei

                  Generally the pu'er / bolay you will get at most dim sum places in the US will not be that great. And usually, it will be shu (ripe / "cooked") style, which uses (essentially) composting to simulate the way the green version of the tea would age over a period of 30-50+ years. This style of tea can be done very well (and very hygienically), but certainly this may not always be the case.

                  And just in case this clears anything up for any other readers, it is dark black in color, and ripe pu'er is considered "black" tea in Chinese terminology, but it's not the same thing as what Western people call "black" tea (Chinese people call that "red" tea). It's a post-fermented tea, and there isn't really an "official" category for it in Western thinking.

                  As mentioned above, it's supposed to cut grease and help with digestion. I guess whether or not one finds the look (or taste, for that matter) of shu pu'er appetizing is a matter of personal opinion -- I don't find it unappetizing.

                  IMHO good shu puer should be smooth, thick, and earthy or medicinal, but shouldn't have too much of a fishy / pond type flavor / aroma. For stand-alone drinking, there are other teas that I usually prefer to drink, but a decent shu pu'er (doesn't have to be expensive or that complex in flavor) can be a good accompaniment to a meal. There are a few places in HK where you can get some excellent aged sheng (raw) pu'er along with your dim sum, but this will generally be expensive.

                  If you have been to the place a lot, they might not mind if you bring your own tea and just ask for hot water. Depends whether you feel comfortable doing that or not, but that's the most reliable way to get decent-ish tea at a restaurant. Of course, the tea needs to be something that will still brew Ok if the water isn't hot enough or doesn't taste good. Something good, but not so good that it's a waste to drink this way.

                  I mostly eat at Chinese places in areas that are heavily ethnic Chinese, and I still consider myself lucky if I go to a Chinese place (other than dim sum or a Cantonese banquet place) and get offered any sort of whole leaf tea. But if I were to pick a tea to drink with dim sum, it would definitely be a good quality shu pu'er or a roasted Tieguanyin.

                4. Ask what kind they have (e.g. black, green, jasmine, oolong, etc.) and then sample a different kind each time you ask for a refill (tip accordingly, of course). Then decide for yourself which kind you prefer.

                  1. I don't like chrysanthemum tea at all. Maybe I haven't had a good version but it reminds me of chamomile, too grassy. I don't care if it is the cheapest, I love jasmine tea.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Fru

                      They do usually use a pretty cheap, bad version. That's why at restaurants I'll ask for it mixed with pu-er.

                      For those who really love their tea, you can also bring your own and ask them to brew it for you.