Yam Cha leh! – Tea Time with Fay

Photos from calvaryzone


When we had breakfast this morning of my famous nasi lemak with fiery red sambal tumis, I had forgotten to brew darling hubby a cup of Iron Goddess of Mercy. He quickly reminded me. Must have that he says, since we are having nasi lemak. “Nasi lemak is so much better with the Goddess around” he jokes.

Iron Goddess of Mercy or Tae Guan Yin

photos from Poagao

Iron Goddess of Mercy or Tae Guan Yin is the most famous of all oolongs (wūlóng) teas according to the Chinese Tea Culture Research Centre. Others included are :

• Xi Hu Longjing, a Green tea from Zhejiang Province.
• Dong Ting Bi Luo Chun, a Green tea from Jiangsu Province.
• Huang Shan Mao Feng, a Green tea from Anhui Province.
• Tai Ping Hou Kui tea, a Green tea from Anhui Province.
• Lu An Guapian, a Green tea from Anhui Province.
• Xin Yang Mao Jian, a Green tea from Henan Province.
• Keemun, a Black tea from Anhui Province.
• Junshan Yinzhen, a Yellow tea from Hunan Province.
• Da Hong Pao, an Oolong tea from Mount Wuyi, Fujian Province.

Jacky Zhang of Fujian serves Tie Guan Yin Oolong tea in his booth – Shenzhen Daily

Tae Guan Yin is from Xiping Township and Xianghua Township in the Nei-Anxi region of Anxi County, which is located in the southern area of China’s Fujian Province. Tae Guan Yin is classified as a classical “Min Nan Oolong” as it is cultivated south of Fujian’s Min River.

Basically I brew Tae Guan Yin for my hubby (and also for myself) as it is known to “clear the palette of oils”. Hence the reason why we always have it after every meal. It is also an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. We were also told that the antioxidants in oolong tea seek out the body for free radicals – molecules that can damage muscle tissue, hinder immune system function and more – and prevent oxidative stress. In other words, it’s a good source of “bahan awet muda”.

But word of caution – oolong tea should not be taken on an empty stomach. It seems that this tea may be a bit acidic although tea is supposed to be alkaline.

Brewing Concept of Oolong Teas : “Gong Fu Cha”

Origin: Southeastern China and Taiwan. Gong Fu Cha is the traditional way of preparing oolong tea and also Pu-erh tea.
Target: The idea is to experience the full flavor and aromatic intensity of tea by using more tealeaves than Westerners are used to brewing in order to make multiple concentrated infusions from one serving of tealeaves. For some, oolong and Pu-erh teas can only be enjoyed in this fashion.
Tea wares / Utensils: Clay teapot from Yixing, China or Tokoname, Japan or a lidded porcelain tea infusing cup known as a “guywan” are the tea wares of choice for brewing “gong fu cha.” A pitcher to decant the tea infusion after the appropriate brewing time is also needed. The infusion is poured from the teapot or guywan into a serving pitcher so the tea infusion is even and can be divided into cups. Porcelain teacups are preferred.


 Bring water to a boil and remove from heat. Pour water from kettle into teapot. After 30 seconds, decant hot water from teapot into the serving pitcher and then into the cups. This action warms the tea brewing wares. Water temperature must be controlled to brewing good tasting tea. Pouring water that has been cooled just right into a cold teapot reduces the water temperature too much and the tea will not taste as planned. This step is important.

Add tealeaves to the teapot. Fill teapot or guywan about 25% full of tealeaves. This can be followed no matter the size of the teapot or brewing vessel. No need for tablespoon measuring.


Pour water over the tealeaves in the teapot and decant right away into the serving pitcher and teacups. Discard and do not drink the first brew. This technique is known as “warming smooth” and is employed to rinse the crude flavor and aroma from the final baking process of the tea. This rinsing step is optional and does not apply to all oolong teas. Many great oolongs do not have to be rinsed and may in fact taste better if not rinsed. We do not recommend to rinse Wen Shan Bao Zhong. Simply use lower water temperature, more tealeaves and a longer infusion time.

Aside from the serving pitcher, a water-cooling vessel may be used to cool the boiled water from the kettle before it is poured over the tealeaves. Many oolongs taste better if the water is cooled a bit before it’s poured over the tealeaves. A ceramic or glass pitcher makes the perfect water-cooling vessel.
For the first rinse and all other infusions it is important to only pour water to the point which covers the tealeaves. Do not fill the teapot full of water until the tealeaves have unfurled to the point when filling the entire teapot with water actually submerges all of the tealeaves in the teapot. Pouring water so it only covers the tealeaves will yield the proper concentration in the infusion and will also allow for multiple infusions of the same serving of tealeaves. As the tealeaves expand with each infusion more water can be added to the teapot.

Brew and serve the tea.
Infusion times are based on filling the teapot 25%–30% full of tealeaves and applied after the initial rinsing step. If rinsing step is omitted the first brew should infuse for 45–60 seconds. The first few infusions should be lighter and aromatic while the later infusions should be infused longer to yield a stronger and fuller flavor.  

Infusion times after rinsing step:

  • 1st and 2nd infusions: 30–45 seconds
  • 3rd and 4th infusions: 1 minute
  • 5th and subsequent infusions: 3–5 minutes depending on tea and desired strength.

resource: rishi-tea.com – GongFuCha-Instruction.html

Jasmine Tea
Another one of our favorite is jasmine tea. Jasmine tea is actually a combination of Chinese green tea with the additional flavor and aroma of jasmine flower petals.

Photos by sergei.y

The jasmine petals are used at full bloom which occurs at night (after they are picked during the day), and the tea is made by repeatedly laying layers of jasmine petals and tea leaves over each other. Six layers of alternating leaves and petals effectively merge the scent of the jasmine flower to the green tea.

Photos by alisonmc

After this “scenting” process is finished, the petals are removed for the tea leaves to be dried. The quality of jasmine tea is determined by the strength of the green tea base to absorb the scent of the flower. As far as health benefits, many believe that jasmine tea’s benefits may exceed those of green tea. Some possible benefits additional to the antioxidant qualities of the green tea leaves are that jasmine tea may prolong life expectancy and lower cholesterol levels. Often jasmine tea leaves are rolled into balls which are called jasmine pearls.

Recently, artisan teas from China have added a kick to drinking tea. The teas are in a form of blom, carefully tied and as you steeped them in boiled water, they bloom in an amazing array of bouquests.

photos from Flower Tea

For more info and purchasing artisan teas visit FullBloomTea.com

My grandmother on the other hand loves to drink her own home made Rice Tea (Teh Beras). She makes them by putting the rice in a small non stick wok and set over a med-low flame. The grains are stirred until they turn dark in spots and give out a nice roasted aroma. These rice kernels can be kept in an air tight container. To make the rice tea, put the rice kernels into a small pot (about 2 table spoons). Add 4 cups boiling water. Simmer for 1 minute. Cover. Let the tea steep for 3 minutes. Just leave the grains sitting quietly at the bottom. You do not need to add the sugar because somehow it just taste sweet without the sugar. My grandmother says that Rice Tea is good because normal tea (Lipton or Boh) gives you wind. This tea doesn’t.

I seriously think that Coffee and Normal Tea are becoming extinct in my household, except for a few bits left just incase we have guess over and don’t share our passion for these two Chinese tea. My daughter drinks Milo occasionally but I think when she’s old enough I might introduce her to these tea as well. It’s a sure good way to reduce your sugar intake because believe me, when you drink these tea, you don’t need sugar.

My darling hubby who grew up in Penang, with its curry, roti canai and tea tarik, couldn’t agree more!

Yam Cha leh!



Filed under artisan tea, fujian, jasmine tea, My recipes, oolong tea, Recipe, tie guan yin

7 responses to “Yam Cha leh! – Tea Time with Fay

  1. This has got to be the most informative entry on tea i have ever read. Thank you for leaving a comment at my now sound so lame entry.

    i love both chinese tea and jasmine tea. but the only chinese tea i have is when i eat at chinese restaraunt. no artisan there. no?

    and the only jasmine teas i got is from kedai seh seh beli timbang. and i thought it was already oh so sedap.

    perhaps i should buy them when i get back to malaysia. any recommendation?

  2. UBA

    my friend’s hubby who went to china couple of times o business trips wonders why were’nt they any fat chinese in china..rarely he sees one.

    and then all those dinners and lunches he went with all the fatty drooling food. he came to a conclusion, they dun become fat becoz access fat has no chance to accumulate in their body. this is a result of drinking hot tea during and after meals..

    he’s practising it now..

  3. janatunaliya

    Hello my new found blog fren Lollies
    I thought your tea entry was exciting dear! Made me crave for my favourite Ahmad Tea – Passionfruit & Peach.
    Well the thing about drinking tea is that its a “personal experience”. Something I like might not be likeable to your taste 😉
    But personally – I love my TieGuanYin and Jasmine Tea to bits. Maybe you might want to try those then?
    I buy Tie Guan where the harvesting area is Xi Ping – cheap for everyday consumption. 25 teabags with 25 teabags of Jasmine Tea for RM10.00. (of course with chinese tea u can use up to 3 brews). Teabags – less mess and no dust.

    I think you can only get artisan tea from that website link. I’ve not found any here in KL

  4. janatunaliya

    Hello my new found blog fren UBA (I think of you as a AA than a UBA – Absolutely Adorable ;))

    I think the ones they usually have at Chinese Dinings are Oolongs. Oolong is an emulsifier for fat and cholesterol.

    That explains eh?

  5. cop cop..i am nearly confuse. is janatunaliya the same as fayrahim? 😀

    where do you get your tea? my son loves chinese tea. i nak try gak your jasmine tea. mana tau lebih sedap then the normal one i get. i don’t think you can go wrong with tea especally these kind of tea. the teh teh biasa sometimes got angin for me. so i notice now. i must be getting old

  6. janatunaliya

    yes lollies dear..janatunaliya and fayrahim is the same.

    I get them at Carefour Wangsa Maju. There is a small kiosk there..small pleasent chinese lady who would offer you a free sample (i love seeing her brew the tea in front of you) 😉

    Talking about the unthinkable..I curi-curi minum teh (yg biasa tu) during pantang…waaaaa angin satu badan nih.


    Assalamu’alaikum everybody ! Im back !
    I’m just back from my very Mamak Tanjong house.

    Saya nak speaking sat noo. Kalau tersalah grammar harap maap wahai Anak JawaCina yee..
    Saya bukan terre bahasa Inggeris sngat. Saya nak crita skit pasai.. Mamak Keling’s Tanjong Drive.

    Along with their cultural background, the Mamaks also brought and introduced to all Malaysians their culinari expertise. Food like murtabak, roti canai, mie goreng, and nasi kandar are some of the mouth-watering “mamak Tanjong” meals indulged by many Malaysians on a daily basis. Then, there is also the famous teh tarik, a drink you must try! The list also goes on to cover mie rebus, mie goreng and other variations that the Malaysians have grown to love.

    Hidup Mamak Tanjong !!!

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