Vivian was invited by South Morning Post to write a number of articles one tea under a column called "Yum Cha".
We are re-posting the contents here. You may access to the original article for clicking the links below. Hope you enjoy the read.
We are re-posting the contents here. You may access to the original article for clicking the links below. Hope you enjoy the read.
Tea, or cha ( Camellia sinensis), is a species of plant whose leaves and leaf buds are used to produce the second most popular drink in the world, after water. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, world consumption of tea reached four million tonnes in 2010.
Tea is drunk at all times of the day, anywhere and everywhere: in Chinese restaurants with dim sum; in five-star hotels with scones; and in cha chaan teng with instant noodles and sandwiches. And it comes in many forms: loose leaf, in a bag, powdered and bottled, to name a few. But how did drinking it come about?
Tea is said to have been discovered by accident about 5,000 years ago by Emperor Shennong of China. Legend has it that one day he was resting under a tree with a pot of drinking water on the boil next to him. A few leaves from a nearby plant fell into the water, turning it yellow. Without noticing the tint, he drank it and found it highly refreshing, and the cuppa was born. The emperor subsequently used tea to cure the many cases of food poisoning he himself suffered as part of his agricultural research, for which he would often taste up to 70 types of plant a day.
Tea consumption spread to the rest of the world by land and by sea. One land route was from Xian to Arabia, then on to Eurasia; another was from Hubei to Russia. The sea routes started in the early 16th century: from Fujian province to Portugal; then from Macau to Holland. The custom of drinking tea spread to France,
England and Germany in the 1600s. Then, in the middle of the 17th century, Dutch traders introduced tea to North America. Due to differences between dialects in China, the word "cha " spread via the land routes while "tea" was exported by sea.
In keeping with the emperor's experiences, tea was first used as a medicine. According to the Compendium of Materia Medica, it has 24 health benefits: among other things it can energise, calm, brighten the vision, clear the mind, cool internal "heatiness", detoxify, aid digestion, cure hangovers, regulate intestinal movements and act as an anti-inflammatory.
Appreciation of tea's flavours came later, following the development and evolution of processing methods, which produced a spectrum of aromas, tastes and aftertastes.
Eighth-century poet Lu Yu, who wrote The Classic of Tea, spent 30 years researching the drink. Besides outlining processing and brewing techniques, he advocated a holistic approach to tea: one should be dedicated to making the perfect cup; through tea, one should learn to be disciplined in both mind and behaviour; and one should control one's consumption of the beverage. In a nutshell, a real tea person should be compassionate, love others and perform good deeds.
Tea has been associated with medicinal and health benefits since its discovery. In ancient books, 24 distinct benefits are attributed to it: tea is said to revivify and energise, calm, improve eyesight, quench thirst, cool internal and external heat from the body, detoxify, degrease, improve intestinal movements, act as a diuretic, reduce mucus, remove air/gas from the body, strengthen the bones, energise and increase longevity. The list goes on …
It seems tea can do everything. But what exactly are we consuming that produces such effects?
Polyphenols are naturally occurring biochemicals that are found mostly in plants, including tea. Of all the polyphenols, flavonoids are the most powerful antioxidants and are supposed to preserve youth. Catechins, especially EGCG (Epigallocatechin 3-gallate), are said to be the most potent health-contributing flavonoids in tea. Green teas have relatively large amounts of EGCG.
Caffeine, an alkaloid that is odourless and slightly bitter, occurs naturally in tea. It helps increase alertness, strengthens the heart, relaxes bronchial muscles and decreases the risk of heart and liver diseases. It also stimulates metabolism and is a diuretic. However, overconsumption will lead to headaches, restlessness, insomnia and anxiety.
Those sensitive to it can remove much of the caffeine in tea by blanching or rinsing the leaves, as it is highly soluble in hot water.
Aromas and fragrances produced by essential oils in tea are energising at first and then calming and tranquilising. Inhaling the aroma of tea before sipping it is actually a kind of aromatherapy. Jasmine-scented green tea or Phoenix oolong teas are great for this.
Theanine is an amino acid found in tea. Studies have found that it has the potential to reduce mental and physical stress, boost mood and improve concentration. Unlike caffeine, high doses of theanine will not have many side effects. Oolongs contain both caffeine and theanine, which both energise and relax you at the same time.
I enjoy a nice cup of oolong while I work, as it boosts production while relieving any tension.
Vitamin A, or beta-carotene, protects cells from ageing and enhances vision.
Vitamin B boosts antibody production, helping to fight diseases, and supplies the cells with energy.
Vitamin C, found in especially high levels in green tea, helps to strengthen the immune system and protect the digestive system against bacterial infections. However, it is easily destroyed by heat and light. That explains why we normally brew green tea at a lower temperature (70 degrees Celsius to 80 degrees Celsius).
Vitamins D and E help strengthen bones and slow down oxidation, respectively.
Ultimately, when discussing all the health-giving benefits of tea, one should never isolate one component over another. After all, tea drinking should be an enjoyable experience, with all the elements working together in harmony to keep your body healthy.
When I ask people: what is your favourite tea? Most of the answers are green tea!
I think there are certain reasons to it. Firstly, the colour green gives us a feeling of freshness, leading one’s association with farm fresh, crisp and light. Secondly, people are health conscious and love to eat more greens. Thirdly, a lot of researches have been done on green tea and its health benefits. And lastly, the marketing and advertising efforts on green tea financed by the big tea brands help to boost the image of green tea.
From history, green tea has been drunk ever since the discovery of tea. The first pot of tea drunked by Shen Nong is a few leaves dropped in a bowl of boiling water; it was in the form of green tea. It was described as a bitter drink with medicinal effects. There are different ways of keeping the fresh leaves green, like steaming and frying. The popular Japanese green tea, Matcha, is derived from a tea processing method from Sung Dynasty (960-1279) where the tea leaves are steamed and dried, then ground into powder. When you prepare this tea, 1-2 teaspoonfuls of powder is put into the centre of a big tea bowl, then hot water is poured into the bowl and a bamboo whisk is used to stir the liquid for a minute or so to serve. The well-known Longjin, or Dragon Well, a green tea from West Lake, Hang Zhou, is processed by a hand-frying technique. A small fresh batch of leaves are thrown into a wok-like pan and fried multiple times with bare hands.
The resulting form of this green tea is like a sword. Then there is also a lesser known but an ancient method called sun-dried green where the fresh leaves are laid in thin layers and dried under the sun without any pressing or rolling, i.e. in its own natural form. But no matter what methods are used, the idea is to exercise heat to stop the oxidation of the fresh leaves.
What are benefits of drinking green tea? Green tea contains a variety of enzymes, amino acids, carbohydrates, lipids, sterols, polyphenols, carotenoids, vitamin, phytochemicals and dietary minerals. Among all the substances found in tea, polyphenols are mostly discussed with their association with antioxidants that will detoxify the cell-damaging free radicals in the body. The most anti-oxidant polyphenols, a catechin called epigallocatechin-3 gallate (EGCG), is high in green tea, which may contribute to the reduction of cardiovascular diseases and prevention of diabetes. This constitutes also to the bitterness of the green tea. Therefore, a lower temperature range 65-85 degree Celcius should used to brew green teas to avoid too much bitterness.
Is green tea really for you?
Although green teas are full of health benefits, they are relatively cool by nature based on TCM, it might not be suitable for everyone. Try not to drink green tea with an empty stomach as it will bring down the blood sugar content very quickly and you may experience dizziness. If it happens to you, immediately biting some milk candies may help.
There is a general perception that the lighter the teas are, the lesser the caffeine is. Caffeine in tea helps you to stay energized. An average cup of tea is about 40mg which is much less than average cup of brewed coffee 100mg. But if you are sensitive to caffeine, try not to over-consume it.
Among all the tea lovers in the world that I meet, the first tea they often mention is “Jasmine” tea. It is in the menu of all the Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong. So many people know its name, but will you ever wonder: “What am I really drinking? Jasmine or tea?”
Jasmine tea, or, in Cantonese, Heung Peen (which means “fragrant leaves”) is, in fact, green tea scented with jasmine flowers. It comes from the Dai Bak tea tree varietal, which is found in Fuding, Fujian province, where the fresh leaves are also made into white and red teas. During spring, from April to May, sprouting needles and leaves are picked every morning, brought down to the factory, then left in the shade to dry and cool off. After that, they are heat set in the oven, preventing fermentation. After this stage, the tea is immediately transported to the markets or stored and refrigerated to keep it fresh.
When the time for picking and processing of the green tea is over, the teas are sent to Guangxi for another stage of processing - scenting. Pre-bloom jasmine flowers are picked during the day, and will partly open in the evening. The jasmine buds are mixed into the green leaves, where they will slowly release their fragrance, with the leaves “breathing in” the aroma. The tea and flowers are left together overnight, and the wilted flowers are blown away the next morning.
High quality jasmine green tea has to go through at least three rounds of scenting to achieve long lasting aromas and flavours. Unfortunately, few restaurants are willing to spend that little extra to serve tea of this quality.
There is also an extravagant presentation of jasmine green teas - handcrafted blooming flower teas. Green silver needles (tea buds) and green tea leaves are tied or threaded together in a bouquet, along with jasmine but also other flowers such as lilies, carnations, thistles and so on. The bouquet is then shaped into a bead or other form with the help of an elastic cloth, then scented 6 times with Jasmine flowers.
It takes about one and a half days to finish a single round of scenting, so it will take at least nine to complete the entire scenting process, but it’s well worth the wait when you see how amazing the tea is as it gradually “blossoms” in hot water.
When choosing jasmine green tea, it is worth noting that the good ones are naturally flowery, have a sweet aroma, and a moderate to strong, but never bitter, taste; in general, those with more silver needles will taste gentler than those with more leaves.
When choosing blooming teas, besides considering the blooming effect, give them a sniff – some merchants skip the scenting process to lower costs. So make sure you smell jasmine, or you could end up having one that looks beautiful but does not have the aroma and taste of jasmine flowers.
Jasmine green teas are good for a cooling and relaxing afternoon with friends, and is a great palate cleanser before your hearty meals.
White Teas - Ageing Tastefully
In April I visited a farm in Fuding, Fujian province where they grow a highly versatile tea cultivar called da bai, the buds and leaves of which are used to produce green, white and red teas. Another noteworthy feature is that the buds, or "needles", are covered in silvery white hair. The white and green teas produced from these buds are called " bai hao yin zhen" in Chinese and "silver needle" in English. The white tea, however, is more commonly known as " shou mei" - " shou" meaning longevity and " mei" eyebrow. The name refers to the eyebrow of an elderly person and the needles do indeed resemble silvery white eyebrows.
In Chinese culinary philosophy, consuming a plant or a bit of an animal that resembles a part of the human body is believed to strengthen that particular feature. In this instance, shou mei is associated with living to a ripe old age and is popular among the elderly.
These silvery hairs serve a crucial purpose: needles bud during early spring, around March, and, since the region is at a high altitude, it can get very cold, so the hairs form a layer of insulation for the needle, like a fur coat. Secondly, moisture from dew drops can cause the needles to rot but the hair prevents this from happening.
To produce white tea, buds are picked during the day and brought to the factory by farmers at dusk. In a process called withering, they are then layered on racks and air-dried at 30 degrees Celsius in a temperature-controlled room for 24 hours. The buds will turn from fresh green to greyish white, after which they are collected and piled in heaps to allow them to oxidise for another 24 to 72 hours; the longer the time, the sweeter and more mellow the taste. The most expensive such teas are naturally withered under the sun, but this is risky as the weather during the spring can be unstable.
This light-oxidised tea will produce a light yellowish brew with a clean, smooth and soothing taste. White tea is prized for its anti-oxidising and anti-ageing effects. From my experience, the gentle flavour of white tea is ideal for people looking for a cooling effect but who have weaker stomachs. It can be consumed at any time and by anybody, including children and pregnant or breastfeeding women. Its anti-inflammatory character is good for people with gum-ache or mouth ulcers.
Red tea (which is known as "black tea" outside of China) is the most popular type of tea in the West. It is Britain's unofficial national drink, while in Hong Kong it is used to make the famous milk tea.
Up until the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), mainstream tea production largely involved pressing green tea into cakes. But Zhu Yuanzhang, founder of the Ming dynasty, pushed instead for loose leaf production, which in turn enabled, or forced, tea producers to experiment with techniques. Continuous refinement evolved into several distinct production methods (or combinations of methods) and gave rise to the tea varieties we enjoy today.
For the production of red tea, the raw leaves are allowed to bake in the sun, before going through a withering process where they are spread thinly on bamboo racks and kept at about 40 degrees Celsius, which helps them to oxidise and lose moisture. These steps, and an additional rolling process that lasts anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours, results in both the finished leaves and the brewed tea being red in colour. The leaves are then put in an incubator for full oxidation. Finally, they are heated to remove moisture, stop fermentation and further enhance the taste. Fully oxidised red tea could also be transported and stored for long periods without tainting the taste.
Red tea was first shipped to Holland and Portugal, and later to other European countries, including Britain. Tea-loving Princess Catherine of Braganza, from Portgual, is credited with making the brew popular across Britain after she married King Charles II of England, in 1662.
Many kinds of red teas were imported from across China; those from the Wuyi Mountains in Fujian province were relatively dark, hence the name "black tea".
One of the most popular English red teas is Earl Grey. According to legend, at the beginning of the 18th century, British politician Charles Grey (who would later serve as prime minister) visited Canton and was served a blend of Chinese tea with bitter orange peel. He brought this recipe back with him to Britain, but replaced the bitter orange with bergamot. Earl Grey tea is named after him.
When tea, porcelain and silk were first being exported to Britain, people brewed tea the Ming way - putting one to two teaspoons of tea leaves into a big porcelain teapot and steeping for a few minutes. This method of brewing would often result in very strong tea, which might explain the addition of sugar and milk. A good red tea, however, does not need such additions. It should have a sweet and fruity aroma, a smooth texture and rich body, and go well with pastries or sweet delicacies.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, red tea has a warm nature, and is therefore good for enhancing blood circulation and digestion. I would suggest the best time to drink red tea is when you're feeling sleepy after a hearty lunch at work.
The annual Hong Kong International Tea Fair was held last month and, among the stars of the show was, as usual, puer.
The variety is commonly described as earthy - a customer once asked whether soil had been added to one of ours! It is one of the teas offered in almost all Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong, where it's usually ordered with dim sum as it is believed puer helps digestion by rinsing away fat and grease. The colour of the version found in restaurants is dark and the taste ranges from light to chokingly bitter.
You will often see compressed puer cakes, or bricks, wrapped in paper. Merchants will tell you that these cakes improve with time, so if you collect a good batch they might be worth a fortune some day - and people do collect them.
Puer comes from Yunnan province and is a post-fermented tea (which means, essentially, that it goes through an ageing process). Traditionally, puer production results in a lightly fermented tea that is not fully oxidised and is referred to as "raw". The tea is then pressed into cakes, stored and allowed to mature. Microbial action will ferment the tea, causing it to darken and develop the characteristic earthy flavour. This method of maturing, however, is dependent on the environment and humidity; temperature and airflow can affect the taste. If it is not stored properly, even the highest quality puer can become undrinkable.
Another method of production speeds up the ageing process through wo dui, or wet piling. The tea is placed into thick piles and either water is sprayed onto it or the humidity is controlled to encourage microbial and fungal growth. The tea is periodically checked and mixed, ensuring even fermentation. Up to a month later, the tea is rolled and baked, or simply dried, resulting in what is known as "ripe" puer, which can be used immediately or further matured. Both loose and cake forms are produced in this way.
So what is the story behind these expensive tea cakes? If you have been following this column, you will remember that in ancient China, all tea was produced in cake form - but only because that made it easy to store and transport. Eventually, a Ming dynasty emperor realised loose-leaf tea had more potential for flavour development and stopped the production of cakes.
The price of tea cakes and the associated culture of speculation are not necessarily derived from the quality of the product. In fact, expensive tea cakes can vary drastically in quality; exceptional examples deserve to be costly but even a low-quality tea can sell for an extremely high price, based merely on its year of production. Unjustifiably high price tags are, therefore, mostly a contrivance designed to make dealers more money.
Loose-leaf puer deserves more credit than it's given. The fact is, loose-leaf puer can be of very high quality and is likely to mature better because each leaf is in contact with the air. In puer cakes, the inner leaves are completely blocked off.
Puer should be stored in an airtight container, away from light and humidity.
When buying tea, it is important not to be swayed by hype and trends. Puer is very dark and looks like it should taste very strong but a good variety is rich yet mellow, is full bodied and can have sweet after tones.
In brewing puer, remember to use boiling water - and to first rinse the tea by pouring boiling water into the pot and quickly decanting it. Puer is good with or after meals, as it is warming, helps digestion and shouldn't keep you up at night. If you have a weak stomach or have trouble going to the loo, a daily cup of puer should prove beneficial.
Experimentation in teamaking began during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). One of the results was the range of teas known as oolong, which is a semi-oxidised variety. Oolong in Chinese literally means "making mistakes" or describes a person who is careless and forgetful. But through trial, error and accidents, exploration during this period brought about marvellous and surprising aromas and tastes. A parallel can be drawn with the discovery of notes and flavours in wine.
Oolong is a big grouping and includes teas from different areas, so covering them all in one column would be impossible. Further complicating the subject is the sheer number of steps in the production process.
Unlike with other teas, such as longjing, which farmers make with the youngest leaves (those at the tips of the plant), oolongs are generally made with the second and third leaves down, which are young but half or almost fully open. The broader leaf allows oxidisation to take place on the edges first and spread inward gradually, creating an intricate profile of aromas and flavours, ranging from flowery to fruity, and with a bittersweet or sweet aftertaste.
After they're picked, leaves undergo a withering process, either in the sun or indoors in a temperature-controlled room. This step helps to demoisturise the leaves and soften them, as well as destroy chlorophyll and so remove undesirable grassiness. Once they are withered, they are allowed to cool off and the remaining moisture distributes itself evenly.
The next step is the "rattling" (or shaking together) of the withered leaves - either by machine or by hand. As they rub against each other, they become bruised, which helps further the oxidisation of the polyphenols in the tea; the moisture is also reduced further, adding to the aroma of the final product. Rattling is essentially what gives oolong leaves their defining colours: green, with red/brown rims.
Once a tea farmer has determined that his leaves have been properly prepared (a process that takes between eight and 10 hours), they are fired for the first time. The high temperature stops any more oxidisation by destroying the enzymes in the leaves. This process also helps to define the taste of a tea; it is a bit like frying vegetables without oil - the freshness and essence of the leaves are preserved.
Next, the leaves are rolled, curled or twisted, again by machine or by hand. This gives them their shape (whether it is the almost bead-like appearance of tieguanyin teas or the long, thin leaves of phoenix oolongs), squeezes out any remaining moisture and presses out oils and juices that impart their flavours during the final stage - baking.
This last step takes place either in electric ovens or over charcoal, with the farmer determining the best temperature and duration for each tea. Baking is crucial as it "sets" the tea, making it as stable as possible - in other words ensuring that there is no moisture left, so the tea can be kept for longer. It is also what really brings out the flavour: underbaked and the tea will be underwhelming, overbaked and it will sting your throat and feel burnt.
Chinese refer to very fine oolong tea as "monkey-pick" tea. Legend has it that ancient tea trees discovered on cliffs and steep slopes in the 18th century were considered risky to climb, so monkeys were trained to pick their leaves. Unfortunately no evidence exists that monkeys can, in fact, be trained for such a purpose, but "monkey-pick" nevertheless entered the lexicon to denote very rare, high-quality oolong.
Tieguanyin tea from Anxi, Fujian province, is the variety most commonly associated with the monkey-pick label and the name literally translates to "iron goddess". It is said to have been discovered by a man named Wang, who presented it to the Emperor Qianlong.
As people started to take cuttings from the bushes to plant in their home villages, these teas spread throughout the Anxi region. And because of the proximity of Anxi to Taiwan, in the 19th century, people started taking cuttings to the Muzha district of Taipei. This explains why Taiwanese oolong resembles tieguanyin.
Chiuchow, in Guangdong province, is another place the cuttings spread to and, to bring out the tea's complex aromas and tastes, people there started using smaller pots and cups. This " gung fu" style of serving is common in Chiuchow restaurants in Hong Kong, where small cups of palate-cleansing tea are presented after a meal.
Fresh tieguanyin leaves are big and broad, with distinctly jagged edges, and in contrast to phoenix oolong leaves, which are twisted, they are tightly rolled into dense beads.
When dropped into a pot or gaiwan, the beads make a "dong dong" sound, like that of iron being pounded. The unfolded leaves and fragrance, meanwhile, are said to have the elegance and beauty of a goddess. The ancient trees from which they derive and the way the leaves are processed make for a floral, lasting aroma.
As with other oolongs, tieguanyin leaves go through several processes: picking; withering; oxidation; frying; twisting and shaping; and, finally, baking. Depending on the length of time they are left to bake, there are two main styles. One is floral, with notes of orchids and narcissus and leaves that are emerald to jade green - in fact, people often mistake such teas for green tea, because of their colour and fresh taste. For people who exert a lot of energy, floral tieguanyin tea is a great thirst quencher.
The alternative is the "charcoal", or "classic", style, for which the leaves are baked over a low heat for more than 15 hours. These teas are dark - almost like coffee beans - and have a warm, robust aroma, with a sweet aftertaste. These "espresso"-like teas are best served in the gung fu style and, because they aid digestion, they're a great way to end a meal. If you enjoy desserts, try a charcoal tieguanyin instead of coffee: you will be amazed by how well it pairs with tiramisu, fruit tarts or scones.
This week, we are transported to Phoenix Mountain, in the Chaoan district of Chiuchow city, Guangdong province, an area known for its distinctive oolong teas, the leaves of which resemble another mythical creature: the dragon. Elongated, twisted and curly, the leaves are dark in colour and, when brewed in water, the tea changes in hue, from dark brown to reddish green, a sign of oxidation.
Phoenix Mountain is part of the South China ranges that span into Fujian province, which is another major oolong-producing area. The mountains rise as high as 1,500 metres and the tea trees grow on steep slopes of dark rock and loose, reddish-yellow soil. The temperature in this area averages 20 degrees Celsius and the subtropical climate, wet air from the Pacific Ocean and high altitude combine to create a favourable terroir for cultivation.
Unlike the tea bushes we are accustomed to seeing in plantations, which have leaves that are within an arm's reach, the tea trees here are tall (three to five metres), with thick trunks and large crowns. Pickers use ladders to gather the fresh leaves by hand; many of the trees here are very old and most are well preserved and maintained. More than 200 types of bush are found in the area, each producing tea with its own distinctive aroma and taste profile.
If you are used to drinking blended teas, with flowers and fruits added to the base to create complexity, you may be surprised by the range of aromas, tastes and aftertastes that occur naturally in these oolongs - from flowers such as orchid and osmanthus to fruits such as peach, lychee and ginger.
Locals drink oolong throughout the day - brewing stations are set up in front of and inside almost every store. " Jek tea" in the Chiuchow dialect means "eating tea", which indicates just how important tea is to daily life here.
Phoenix oolongs are high in antioxidants and catechins. They also have enough caffeine - 2 to 5 per cent - to boost energy, and theanine, an amino acid, which relieves pressure and anxiety. For those with sensitive respiratory systems, the diuretic Phoenix oolongs, such as Mandarin Orchid, are said to cleanse the lungs and liver.
To enjoy the full complexity of these oolongs without any of the bitterness, use water heated to 85 degrees, or let boiled water sit for 10 to 15 minutes before steeping the tea for one minute in a gaiwan, or a mug with a big strainer. You will find that the tea's wonderful aromas and taste develop gradually through multiple brews.
The Wuyi Mountains, in Fujian province, are the source of a distinctive group of oolong teas that reflect the wonders of nature.
The mountains were listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1999, and their sheer, rocky cliffs and creases - where the soil is thin but enriched with water from winding rivers - are home to ancient trees that are heavily shaded by clouds and mist. Due to these conditions and the soil's rich mineral content, teas produced from these trees have a distinctive "rock" or "yan" flavour and aftertaste.
Of all the yan cha found in the Wuyi Mountains, da hung pao (big red robe) is the most sought-after. According to legend, the mother of a Ming dynasty emperor was cured of an illness by drinking this tea, after which the emperor sent great red robes to crown the four bushes from which the leaves had been picked. Three of these original bushes still stand here and, as you might expect, tea produced from them is enormously expensive.
The leaves of premium da hung pao are big and the tea produces a sweet and floral aroma, with a charcoal-y note. It is round and full-bodied, with a lingering aftertaste.
If you want to enjoy rock teas on a regular (and more affordable) basis, consider shui xian, which is served in most dim sum restaurants. A good shui xin should have a warm and charcoal-y aroma and body. I especially like to pair this tea with cha siu bao (barbecued-pork buns), as it enhances the flavour of the meat.
Another Wuyi tea is particularly prized by Westerners: lapsang souchong. During the Ming dynasty, it was named "bohea", which means "black tea", to differentiate it from green tea. Its special smoky aroma came about by accident. In the 17th century, the Wuyi Mountains were invaded by the Qing army. Villagers - in a hurry to dry their tea before they fled - only had pine wood (considered a bad wood because of the strong odour it imparts) to hand for baking it with. They didn't think much of the results, but Dutch traders passing through loved it and subsequently introduced it to the world.
No matter which Wuyi teas you are drinking, they will warm the body and aid digestion, which makes them suitable for those with cold feet or chilly hands.