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Tea with or without milk [split from LA]

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(Note: This thread was split from the LA board at: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7506... -- The Chowhound Team)

ed,

You're very welcome.

Re: wine. Yeah, I'm aware of the addition of casein during the wine making process. The analogy I had in mind was actually adding milk to your wine glass before imbibing.

Re: tea. Chinese people usu. drink tea less as a complementary beverage (in the way wine would be) and more as a palate cleanser, which is why I think that in part sugar is not added to hot tea at restaurants.

But hey, it's your meal, eat it the way you want! As long as you're happy, then it's all good.

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  1. I don't know what you're talking about, but we in Hong Kong drink tea much more as a complementary beverage than a "palace cleanser". Maybe your only point of reference is restaurants in America, but this is the case everywhere in Hong Kong, whether it's a wonton noodle shop, a porridge place, or a fancy restaurant for dinner.

    9 Replies
    1. re: hong_kong_foodie

      Hong Kong has its own unique quirks regarding drinks and stuff. In the old days, milk tea was a distinctly HK item. Today, it is a bit more common in other types of eating establishments.

      1. re: raytamsgv

        What you are referring to is the HK style milk tea, which was born circa 1950s as a means to offer British afternoon/high tea style beverage to the masses, it was perhaps around that time when HK people accepted western style tea with milk and sugar. British afternoon tea has a much longer history than that (they say 1600s) but when milk and sugar were added, I don't know.
        Also HK milk tea typically uses leaf blends from Sri Lanka, India/Ceylon, maybe SE Asia somewhere. There are HK cafe style shops in California (and very likely many HK cafes in SGV) that use a leaf blend that contain Chinese (or Taiwanese) tea as their house tea (either on purpose or that is their in-house tea), or it is a teabag.... and they just slash in evaporated milk and sweetener (or condensed milk), charge a buck to a buck fifty for it to satisfy demand, and call it a day (rather than going through the laborious process of actually properly brewing one with the right kinds of leaves).

        The only traditional tea that is sweetened to my knowledge in Hong Kong, are in those medicinal cold tea shops, the only one of which is chrysanthemum and usually with a hint of honey, if not sweetener. For crazy herbal teas like 24 tastes (ya sei mei) they say it tastes so foul to some that no amount of sweetener will help you.

        But yes, people in Asia drink tea as a beverage of choice. Hot tea also helps digest and break down fats/grease (or so they say). By that token, there are some really nasty looking hole in the wall run down places (but they serve great cheap food) in HK....people would use their house tea to rinse their chopsticks, knives, and forks. I dare say this may still be practiced in some Chinatown joints too.

        Bottled tea is also a big business in JPN and TW.

        1. re: K K

          people would use their house tea to rinse their chopsticks, knives, and forks. I dare say this may still be practiced in some Chinatown joints too.

          _______________________________________________

          Happens here in Los Angeles as well ... in fact, it is de rigueur in some places.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            Which also makes it the easier to make fun of a dining companion not in the know....."you're drinking THAT? We use it to rinse our utensils! That's why they have beverages on the menu!".

            Or that bowl of house tea with a slice of lemon sometimes served on the side for a diner to rinse fingers after eating messy shellfish like fresh prawns, crab, or lobster....and not for drinking (no milk and sugar with that one either).

            1. re: K K

              Even the restaurant employees do it.

              Ever see waiters wipe down a table with the leftover tea in the pot ... Monkey see, Monkey do, right?

          2. re: K K

            I remember those "medicinal teas" very well. All the sugar in Asia and North America couldn't make that stuff taste better. They were the main reason why I almost never missed school. If I was sick, my mom would've forced me to drink them.

            1. re: raytamsgv

              I remember those "medicinal teas" very well. All the sugar in Asia and North America couldn't make that stuff taste better. They were the main reason why I almost never missed school. If I was sick, my mom would've forced me to drink them.

              ____________________

              That's why they make haw flakes.

               
              1. re: raytamsgv

                The stuff you and many other older generation expats/Chinese Americans by way of Hong Kong/Southern China were likely served hot and cooked in some ceramic claypot, and weren't "teas" per se but more like witches brew. For some reason they called it "bitter tea" in Cantonese which had absolutely nothing to do with tea.

                Now the cold tea shops in Hong Kong (涼茶鋪), some of the drinks are medicinal teas (truly teas), some basically similar to what your mom made have made you consume (the foul stuff, like 24 tastes), then some that are proper and nice drinks like chrysanthemum (the most mild, non offending, and best tasting of the lot especially to tourists), and on top of that they may also sell stuff like turtle jelly. Basically any tea based drinks these shops would serve are cold (no ice) and chances are, are more palatable than what mom would have made you shove down your throat.

                Then for those who grew up in HK in the 50s through the 80s, might remember a western cough medicine that was so horrific in taste, that it was given the nickname 馬尿, or horse urine.

                1. re: K K

                  I'm curious: how do you define a true tea?

        2. Some interesting discussion of tea in general has been moved over to the general topics board: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/750900