Are you curious about the world of Chinese tea, but not sure where to start? We hear you — it’s a complicated topic after all, with endless options available. We highly recommend just brewing and drinking some Chinese teas to ease into this popular pastime. It’s the most direct way to know the nuances of the various teas types and tea styles, as well as to incorporate tea into your everyday life. Here are five great Chinese teas for first-timers — delicious, easy-to-brew, and widely available.
Pssst… Learn more about tea making, the six tea major types, tea pairing, tea brewing, and so much more with the book “Tea is for Everyone: Making Chinese Tea Accessible” published by our parent company Man Mo Media, coming out very soon!
Oriental Beauty is a surprisingly sweet Taiwanese tea, with some unmistakably fruity and honey notes, making it perfect for all-day drinking. The origin of this tea also makes for a great story: Oriental Beauty is strictly made from tea leaves bitten by a special tiny leafhopper called the Jacobiasca formosana (小綠葉蟬), which prompts the leaves to release aroma compounds and contributes to its unique taste.
Since it’s crucial for tea farmers to maintain a healthy ecology for the leafhoppers, the growing of this tea usually involves little to no pesticides, making it a relatively clean tea to drink.
Where to get some: Homeland Tea Garden, Shop 9, 7 Mallory Street, Comix Home Base, Wan Chai (Wan Chai MTR Exit A3)
Gaoshancha, aka High Mountain Tea, is an incredibly nuanced and diverse style of wulong from Taiwan. It’s got the classic astringency that people associate with some Chinese teas, and boasts staggering aromas ranging from floral and woody to fruity and chocolate-y. Some of the most famous High Mountain regions are Alishan (阿里山), Lishan (梨山), Dayuling (大禹嶺) and Shanlinxi (杉林溪).
Where to get some: Wang De Chuan, 10/F, Hysan Place, Causeway Bay
Any tea beginner should try a whole-leaf Chinese red tea (aka western black tea), especially if your previous red tea experience consisted mostly of breakfast tea bags. Chinese red tea is a whole new world: it’s deeply aromatic, mellow and intensely sweet, a flavor profile that you don’t find in any other tea types. Qimen Hongcha is the top name when it comes to Chinese red tea, and is known for delightful flavors, from chocolate to ripe fruit. Make sure you buy a good quality red tea (there are many lower-grade red teas out there), so that you can truly taste the delicious sweetness.
Where to get some: Fook Ming Tong, Shop 3006, ifc mall, 1 Harbour View Street, Central, 2295-0368
Looking for a coffee alternative to start the day? Longjing, arguably the most famous Chinese tea, is a great morning beverage. Refreshing, anti-oxidant and stimulating, Longjing is a green tea with flat and smooth leaves. Authentic Longjing must be grown in Zhejiang province and should taste grassy and subtly sweet. If you find your brew to be too bitter, the key is to use slightly lower than boiling temperature water.
Where to get some: plantation by teakha, 18 Po Tuck Street, Sai Ying Pun, 3482-2660
Baimudan, meaning “white peony,” is a type of white tea. White tea is the least processed tea type, an example being the Shoumei, a Cantonese dim sum restaurant classic! White tea is known for its amber brew and for being more mellow and sweet. It’s said to be highly anti-oxidant and great for clear skin. Baimudan doesn’t have any astringency at all, and leans more towards earthy and fruity.
Where to get some: Yu Teahouse, L230, 2/F, The Eslite Spectrum, Star House, Tsim Sha Tsui
“Tea is for Everyone: Making Chinese Tea Accessible” is now available for pre-order. It will be out in Hong Kong book shops starting late October!