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Mar 15, 2012 03:21 PM

Chinese Red Tea?

Hey gang,
I'm a relative tea novice, but I know what I like. :-)

I've managed to I.D. and track down the various teas I love, including the brown rice Genmaicha tea I was formerly craving, and now I'm looking to I.D. a couple of others:

#1 - The default chinese tea served in bulk at places like Richmond Court at Times Square Richmond Hill - I've tried to get more info, but the folks there simply call it "regular chinese tea" or "red tea", but it's different than the jasmine and oolong teas that some other places call their "regular chinese tea".

#2 - The base tea used for cold 'Royal Milk Tea' either the japanese bottled variety, or the type they serve at malaysian places like South Asia Malasia, etc.

Any help with variety, brand, and where-to-buy would be great!


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  1. What is called "red tea" in Chinese is black tea. There are many grades and blends so it's hard to recommend a brand that is close to what you've had. Liptons is popular in Hong Kong as well as "Ceylon" black tea.

    1. TT, are you referring to the 'chinese' tea served in the pot when you sit down OR the cream/milk team they serve (ordered item)?

      Although it's been ages iirc since I've been to Richmond Courty, the regular 'chinese' tea they serve is a Pu Erh/Pu-Er(mandarin) or Bolay/Po-Lei (cantonese). You can google those for more info but in terms of purchasing it is going to be tougher but I am sure you will prevail.

      Although widely available price is usually linked to age of the tea ... from what I gather 'aging' drives the price of most pu-er. Of course there are other variables to the pricing but age is a big one. I've had some very pricey pu-er from family and friends but it is a very earthy/musty flavour profile

      Good luck..

      3 Replies
      1. re: kerwintoronto

        Thank you - great start, I'll go digging after Pu Erh/Pu-Er or Bolay/Po-Lei :-)

        There is a similar flavour profile between the good Malaysian milk-tea I've had and the Richmond Court's regular tea that they serve free when you dine, which is unlike most other "chinese tea" that I've been served elsewhere, and i think comes from aging the tea leaves.

        I'm on a mission to make my own, so this definitely helps - THANKS :-)

        Any other suggestions are always appeciated!

        1. re: kerwintoronto

          I have been served Pu Erh tea in China and it was considered very special. I am surprised that this restaurant would refer to it as regular Chinese tea if it was Pu Erh. Might be worth another round of questioning.

          1. re: crawfish

            Pu Erh is one of the common 'house' teas for most Cantonese restos in Toronto.

            Given the range of quality of Pu Erh I wouldn't be surprised that we are all dicsussing the same tea. There are pu erh that can run $1.99 a box to $199+ a pound.

            Crawfish, I suspect the Pu Erh you were served was of a special vintage or quality. There are indeed Pu Erh that I have experienced which were indeed occassions in of themselves.

   more thing. I went thru a phase where I was trying to find the right Pu Erh for my everyday drinking and it didn't work out. Many of the 'nicer' Pu Erh had to much age for my liking...didn't like a lot of the tepid flavours in the grocery store Pu Erh. The search got cut short when I got introduced to Luk On ( guess on the phoenetics from a illiterate Canto speaker). It was a softer version of Pu Erh, especially the earthiness...just my tasting notes not any food canon. If you wander across a Luk On give it a try.

        2. Anyone know where in the GTA to purchase high quality aged Bolay Tea? The earthier, the better.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Yimahaji

            I am not sure if you are willing to travel. Just in case you are.....
            I get my bo lai at the tea shop inside the mall where Century Palace restaurant is. I am sorry I don't know the name of the place. It is the only store in the mall that specializes in tea. Century Palace is on Ferrier (near Steels and Warden) behind the Metro Square plaza. I can't say that the place is worth a special drive out there, but if you find yourself in the area I would stop in.

            1. re: sweetie

              OK, so now that you hijacked my thread, tell me about Bo Lai / Bolay tea :)

              1. re: TorontoTips

                As a child, my mother always ordered 'Bolay' whereas my father enjoyed 'heung ping' tea. I've since been told that my father liked jasmine tea whereas my mother's favourite was one type of Pu'Er tea. It's served widely with Cantonese Dim sum. It's starts light when newly watered but as it sits develops a dark musty woodsy type smell and taste. It's not the same as oolong tea. On Wiki, there are so many subtypes of Pu'Er that I find it confusing whereas their description of Bolay is straightforward. At Cha Liu, the waitress straightened me out and clarified that Bolay is indeed the type of tea that I was drinking since childhood (and may be what you were originally alluding to),

                1. re: Yimahaji

                  Two types of Pu-Erh tea. The first purchased at Whole Foods turned out not to be Bolay type of Pu-Erh.

                  The second purchased at Ten Ren Tea around Dundas and Spadina was offered when I asked for Bolay specifically. Translated independantly as Bolay.


                  1. re: Yimahaji

                    Actually "Bolay" and "Pu-erh" are just the Cantonese and Mandarin pronunciations of the same thing 普洱. At Ten Ren they speak Cantonese, so they would say Bolay. It just happens to be the type of Pu-erh you're looking for, perhaps a variation favoured in Hong Kong. I don't find an entry for "bolay" in wikipedia that you referred to.

                    1. re: Teep

                      Yes, the one from Ten Ren smelled like what I recall from Dim Sum shops whereas the one from Whole Foods wasn't to my taste. I'll have to stick to that particular brand of Pu-Erh in that case.

                      I've also received the following tea as a gift but can't read any of it. Would you be able to translate?

                      1. re: Yimahaji

                        The pressed pu-erh tea cake is a product from Yunnan, produced at the Menghai Tea Factory.

                        The blade on top is marked Pu-erh Tea Cutter.

                        The other picture is too small to read though, probably just general information about pu-erh tea.

          2. The tea is "green tea", u will be able to see the flakes.