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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ask them which types they have. Choose one at random, but you must choose confidently so they (and the rest of your party) think you know what you're doing. Then mutter to yourself (just loud enough for others to hear it): "I can't believe they have such a limited tea selection!"
Next time, repeat but choose another type of tea. :-)
I'm laughing...I love your post and your approach, raytamsgv!
You are exactly right! Although jasmine tea is the usual and is a nice pairing with dim sum, it really does not matter. Each different variety of tea just adds another dimension to the already very textured dim sum experience.
Just keep it fresh! If the tea begins to go bitter, trade it in...as most places are very willing to do.
These are the common teas one can have with dim sum:
- Jasmine (茉莉 or Muo Li in Mandarin). In Cantonese it is commonly shortened to "Heung Peen" (香片).
- oolong (wu long) 烏龍
- Chrysanthemum (Gok Fa) 菊花茶. Should be just the flower, and has zero caffeine for those worried.
- Sau Mei 壽眉 (longevity eyebrow loosely translated) - a white tea
- TIe Guan Yi / Teet Goon Yum 鐵觀音
- Bo Lei (Pu-Er) 普洱. Old relatives used to not order this and claimed this was darkened by industrial dye.
Some places might offer Dragonwell (Lung Jeng) which is a nice green tea.
I've also come to enjoy blends of the above
like Pu-Er and Chrysanthemum (Guk Bo) 菊普
or even better, Sau Mei and Chrysanthemum 菊壽 which is very old school good.