Ever passed by one of those Chinese herbal tea shops and wondered what they were selling? Here are some of the most popular local herbal drinks that you should try
There is just something special about Cantonese food. While it might not look the most decadent – e.g. these Cantonese desserts and street food in Hong Kong – you’ll probably find that much of it is eerily delicious and addictive. Instead of taking you on a Hong Kong food tour this time, we’re teaching you how to hunt down the most commonly consumed Chinese herbal teas in the city (even though they all look the same – brownish black).
Chinese herbal teas that are common on the streets
1. 24 Flavours Tea (廿四味)
Why’s it called 24 Flavours Tea? It’s because it’s a mixture of around 24 ingredients, sometimes as few as 10 or as many as 28 or above. As one of the most commonly seen Chinese herbal teas, it’s great to aid digestion, alleviate sore throats and common colds, and it helps clear toxins and heat in the body.
2. Spica Prunellae (夏枯草)
Spica Prunellae is known for lowering blood pressure and blood sugar levels, as well as for treating liver fire and conjunctival congestion. While a lot of Chinese herbal teas are described as bitter and dull, Spica Prunellae is probably my personal favourite in terms of flavours – delivering a bit of pleasant sweetness. Probably the best one to start your journey into the world of Chinese herbal teas.
3. Five Flower Tea (五花茶)
Made of five kinds of flowers, Five Flower Tea is most known for its excellent benefits for nourishment and improving your eyesight. This anti-inflammatory drink is also good for your lungs as it helps clear “excessive fire” in your body.
4. Rorippa Indica (野葛菜)
Just like most Chinese herbal teas, Rorippa Indica also helps remove excessive heat and toxins in your liver and bones – making it perfect to consume during summer. And if you happen to have a sore throat or a cough, this might just be what will help you kick it to the curb.
5. Canton Abrus Herb (雞骨草)
Are you a victim of insomnia? Are you used to pulling all-nighters? Canton Abrus Herb is known for relieving stress in damaged livers (especially suitable for those who smoke and drink a lot) and clearing toxins, so make sure you give it a try.
6. Monk Fruit Tea (羅漢果茶)
Naturally sweet, monk fruit (aka Luo Han Guo) is loved by many Chinese households for its health benefits, such as curing sore throats and coughs. Since it is believed to have cooling effects, it is widely consumed by Chinese during summer. Although it tastes very sweet, monk fruit contains barely any carbs and calories, thus your insulin levels will not rocket after drinking.
7. Fire Hemp Seed Tea (火麻仁茶)
Rich in monounsaturated fat, protein and vitamin E, fire hemp seeds are believed to have tons of health benefits. Constipation prevention, anti-aging, reducing risk of cardiovascular disease… Just to name a few of the effects. Fire hemp seeds have been used as Chinese medicines for over two thousand years, and are still loved by many Chinese medicine practitioners.
8. White Sugar Cane Tea (白茅根茶)
If you’re stressed out and suffering from insomnia, drinking a cup of White Sugar Cane Tea might be helpful. Other than clearing your “internal heat”, this liang cha can also cure bad breath and hangovers, making it a perfect drink for late-night party gangs.
9. Chrysanthemum Tea (銀菊露)
Fragrant chrysanthemum flowers boiled with honey and cane sugar makes the perfect chrysanthemum tea. Cooling, detoxing and clearing internal heat are just some of its benefits. While people often consume chrysanthemum tea when they have a cold or flu, some simply drink it as a refreshing, healthy tea.
Great shops to buy Chinese herbal tea
1. Herbaceous Tea
Making daily-fresh liang cha in Sha Tin, Herbaceous Tea serves refreshing hawthorn tea, barley water, ginseng tea, and many other liang cha with no added sugar and preservatives. Their teas come in a cool bottle with prices ranging from around $27 to $78. Other than liang cha, you might also want to try their medicine broth and pear honey pastes.
Herbaceous Tea has several shops and retailers in Hong Kong
2. Chau Ka Yuen Herbal Tea
Chau Ka Yuen is a family business established over a half-century ago. Every day, the shop owner carefully washes the herbs and prepares everything all by hand, earning Chau Ka Yuen many loyal customers. While drinks like the twelve-hour boiled Ji Gu Cao Tea and Ya Sei Mei Tea are customers’ all-time favourite, Chau Ka Yuen’s Gui Ling Gao herbal jelly is also a must-try in chilly hot summers.
Chau Ka Yuen Herbal Tea, G/F, 52 Ap Lei Chau Main Street, Ap Lei Chau, Hong Kong
3. Chuen Chun Tong Chinese Herbal
Known for its original twenty-eight herbs tea, Chuen Chun Tong has long been supported by Kowloon residents for the effectiveness of its remedies. A Chinese medicine practitioner first established the store over sixty years ago and later passed on the business to his son. Some must-try items including Five Flower Tea, Apple Pear Tea, Fieldcrest Maculata Soup and Ji Gu Cao Tea. After enjoying a bowl of refreshing herbal tea at Chuen Chun Tong, make sure to grab their handmade five-spice pork dumplings to take back home!
Chuen Chun Tong Chinese Herbal, Shop B, G/F, 29 Nga Tsin Wai Road, Kowloon City, Hong Kong, p. 2383 7081