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How to Properly Drink Tea at Chinese Restaurants in San Francisco

Han Lijun

Pouring white tea at tea house in SF

Anyone living in The City by the Bay who is craving for some kung pao or chow mein can conveniently satisfy their taste buds at a popular San Francisco Chinese restaurant—but if you want your experience to be more unique than that of the average diner, how about immersing yourself in authentic Chinese culture and cuisine while you're in there? If you know your oriental culture, then you'll know that this means making tea a part of your meal. Here are some tips:

Don't drink tea first at Chinese restaurants.

Tea shouldn't be consumed on an empty stomach—this is because the beverage has a high alkaline content, whereas your stomach juices are pretty much all acid. When the two substances meet, they produce a chemical reaction that could make you feel bloated, among other things, so your enjoyment of your meal will be lessened.

Drink white tea with fried food

Typically, pure white tea produces a light infusion, so it's best paired with fried food that are lightly flavored, like a basic salad, for instance. You could also try it with fried or deep fried finger foods (e.g. dumplings). Too flavorful food might overwhelm the white tea and make you feel as if you're drinking nothing more than hot water.

Drink bitter teas with sweets.

According to an article by CNN's Travel writer and editor Virginia Lau, you should seek to pair sweet foods with bitter tea variants:

Sweet food is best paired with tea that is more bitter. Loong cheng green tea helps moderate the sweetness of desserts.

Like pu-erh tea, drinking green tea helps lower cholesterol levels and break down fat.

But while most teas are best brewed in boiling hot water, green teas like screw shaped green tea and loong cheng only need to be brewed in water that is about 75 to 85 degrees. If the water is too hot, it will be difficult to maintain the same fragrance in the second brew.

Smell before you drink at Chinese restaurants.

Just as fine wine is to be sipped and savored to enjoy, a tea's quality should also be tested before you gulp down the entire cup. When it comes to teas though, scent is the key—if it gives off a nice aroma right off the pot, it's most likely fresh and of good quality.

An excellent Chinese restaurant in San Francisco like Chili House SF has its own range of teas that will complement their dim sum and other dishes just right. So the next time you visit your favorite Chinese restaurant, try a cup of their recommended tea and start warming up for the tasty dishes to come.

(Source: 12 things about tea your local dim sum restaurateur won't tell you, CNN Travel)

Categories: Info Articles

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