Sunday, November 23, 2008

Still Trying to Figure Out Kung Fu Tea

Kung Fu Tea

No matter how many times I read up on it beforehand, I know that I keep messing up the procedure on this thing. This was of course Kung Fu Tea, a complex Teochew process of creating a proper brew. We're not talking about a simple Lipton tea bag here...this ritual involves all sorts of nuances like pouring hot water over the little cups, intentionally overflowing the miniature teapot to get rid of the bubbles, and even sniffing the leaves at the end for extra aroma. I kept fumbling along, unsure of how much of the loose leaf tea to use, not knowing how strong to make it nor when to drain it, and scalding my fingers on the hot cups in the process.

Well, even if I messed it up, these concentrated little doses did provide a welcome palate cleansing against a bowl of pork-based bak kut teh. I probably just need to watch a master do it in person rather than just reading about the procedure. Note to self: go easy on the tea next time. Clearing a few of these little kettles on my own this morning injected so much tea into my caffeine-sensitive system that my heart is ready to jump out of my ribcage right now (why won't my leg stop shaking??).

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

There's a tea shop on Tanjong Pagar Road - Yixing Xuan Teahouse (http://yixingxuan-teahouse.com/) who will happily walk you through the simple steps of filling the teapot, rinsing the tea and preheating the cups, and properly brewing the tea. They'll also be happy to sell you tea, teapots, etc :-)

Anonymous said...

Pardon me , but this sounds strange to me. You can consume all these amounts of rich food, alcohol, etc.. but all of a sudden a little tea sends you into palipitations? I drink tea (Twinning's "Irish Breakfast", or "Gunpowder") every day, and it still has has less caffine per cup than coffee or cola. I have witnessed and participated in Japanese tea rituals. They were nice, but green tea has little caffine. You could get more of a jolt by drinking a can of Diet Coke.

bma said...

Yep - cholesterol and alcohol are my two greatest sins. But I've successfully steered clear of building up any tolerance to caffeine (thankfully, sugar and tobacco don't sit well with me either). If I have more than one can of Coke in a day, I'm done for.

Anonymous said...

The tea served with Bak Ku Teh is (and the one most often served gung fu style) is oolong. It has more caffeine than green tea. Also, although you're drinking little cups of tea, it's usually pretty strong.

hugewhaleshark said...

Not sure if it helps, but I read somewhere that the caffeine is in the first brew of tea. You may want to try discarding the first brew and see if that leg stops shaking...

Kathy said...

Eating high fibre (both soluble and insoluble) foods such as oat or bran helps reduce cholestrol levels?

Apparently, the Koreans believe that barley helps too.

Anything that helps the liver detox, including large doses of water drunk in the morning before breakfast will help.

A quick remedy would be to pop milk thistle tablets.

eatshopbemerry said...

East Ocean Teochew Restaurant serves kung fu cha before and after the meal ( as far as i can recall ). I normally skip the 'before meal' offering as i'm afraid my empty stomach could not take it. Having it after the meal was great as the bitter tea does a good job of clearing the palate

Marlonm said...

Caffeine is not the only thing in tea that can give you a "jolt". The Amino Acid L-theanine works in conjunction with it, and often times (if it's good, full leaf tea and not bagged) will induce a mellow "awakeness".

@bma - I run an online tea shop based out of California, and if you're looking for more tips on brewing kung fu tea, you should check out www.chanteas.com/kungfu