Live Phuket The Phuket News Kata Rocks The Phuket News Outrigger Koh Samui Beach Resort
The Phuket News World News
The Phuket News Phuket | Thailand | World | Business | Q&A | Weird World XML, RSS, Feed
The Phuket News The Phuket News
The Phuket News

Hong Kong’s engine fuel: ‘lai cha’ is what keeps city’s people going

HONG KONG: Some cities are fuelled by coffee. In Hong Kong, it’s milk tea that keeps things running – a potent nostalgia-infused caffeine hit, with fierce competition to brew the best in town.

culture,


AFP

Sunday 4 September 2016, 02:00PM


A tea master makes milk tea at family-run tea shop in Hong Kong. Photo: AFP
A tea master makes milk tea at family-run tea shop in Hong Kong. Photo: AFP

There are thousands of restaurants offering the full gamut of international cuisines, but the city’s no-frills diner-style cafes, some of them decades old, remain perennial favourites with locals, and still do a roaring trade.

Known in Cantonese as “cha chaan tengs” or “tea restaurants” they serve up cheap local favourites, from fried egg sandwiches and buttery French toast to noodle soups and macaroni.

The standard accompaniment is a milk tea, or “lai cha” – a tangy, deep-tan brew made from blends of black tea strained repeatedly for strength, then mixed with condensed or evaporated milk.

The city gulps down around 2.5 million cups a day.

At family-run tea shop Lan Fong Yuen, on a hilly market street in Hong Kong’s Central district, business shows no sign of slowing after 60 years.

Owner Lam Chun-chung says the no-fuss nature of Hong Kong’s tea restaurants plays a big role in their popularity in a fast-paced city.

“People are always in a rush. Having a quick bite with milk tea is fast and convenient,” says Lam, who adds that his cafe has much more character than the growing number of sterile coffee shops.

“We represent the grassroots. When you are here you feel a sense of community,” he says.

Customers sit around shared wooden tables, many stopping for just 10 minutes to grab a quick breakfast or mid-morning boost.

A tea master juggles steaming pots on an electric stove, straining the hot brews through long cloth sieves – a key utensil for any serious Hong Kong “lai cha” joint.

The sock-like strainer has lent Hong Kong milk tea one of its nicknames: “stocking milk tea”.

At this cafe, tea is strained seven times to intensify the flavour.

Lam taught the current tea master his skills and still drinks a cup or two of milk tea each day. It is an addiction, he says, but also a way to monitor standards.

Unit - 27

Milk tea is a local institution and has even made it onto an official list of the city’s “intangible cultural heritage”. Hong Kong’s Association of Coffee and Tea says it is also building a global fanbase.

The association has been running Hong Kong milk tea contests worldwide for the past seven years, and they are growing.

Earlier this month, competitors from Hong Kong, mainland China, Canada and Australia all competed for the “KamCha” or “Golden Cup” award in the association’s largest tea competition, on home turf.

Local contestant Chen Chi-ping, 44, emerged victorious – he has been making milk tea in Hong Kong “cha chaan tengs” for 22 years.

“Every detail has to be strictly precise – the heat of the stove, the water temperature,” he says.

The fragrance and potency, as well as the thick consistency, make Hong Kong-style milk tea unique, Chen adds.

It has flowed through the city’s arteries for more than half a century, according to association chairman Simon Wong, who tells how it was first served on Hong Kong’s docks to sailors and labourers, an earthy adaptation of the weaker version made with fresh milk by the colonial British who governed at that time.

“Hong Kong people wanted something with more punch. So we invented this type of brewing,” Wong says.

The strength of the tea and the canned milk made it value for money – few ordinary Hong Kongers at that time could afford fresh milk.

Wong’s father – a tea trader – was a proponent of the new concoction, setting up one of the first “cha chaan tengs” in Hong Kong, which still exists today.

Mainland China has now also developed a taste for Hong Kong-style milk tea, and immigrant communities across the world are introducing it to new countries, says Wong.

The winning formula? Both tea champion Chen and cafe owner Lam agree – it is the passion to make a great cuppa.

“The most important thing is to put your heart into it,” says Chen.

 

 

The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Comment on this story
* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.
Comments Here:
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
CAPTCHA
    Forget your password?

Be the first to comment.

The Phuket News
The Phuket News The Phuket News The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Share this
The Phuket News
Have a news tip-off? Click here
The Phuket News
Related stories
The Phuket News
Phuket community

Recent Comments


One killed, several injured when minivan driver loses control off Phuket

Not all minibus drivers are bad, some are very good drivers About the same average as foreign conmen in Phuket in my opinion, Which means there are...(Read More)


Phuket expat praised for fixing holey road, local administrations panned

He'll probably be kicked out of the country for working without a permit...Oh, and making the useless OBorJor look....well, useless. ...(Read More)


Phuket expat praised for fixing holey road, local administrations panned

How about the steps at Surin Beach? They have not been cleaned for years and the bushes have over grown the steps so only half the width of the steps ...(Read More)


Phuket expat praised for fixing holey road, local administrations panned

Well done for your efforts sir. The local residents appreciate your DIY efforts! Yes, in thailand i have noticed if you polish one shoe, the other pol...(Read More)


One killed, several injured when minivan driver loses control off Phuket

I have not seen 1 competent mini bus driver in all of Thailand. These uneducated idiots drive flat out and over take on blind bends. I was in Chiang...(Read More)


Phuket expat praised for fixing holey road, local administrations panned

Classic Thai official response..."not my pobpem"... no help or assistance...just deflect and get back to doing nothing. There are other roa...(Read More)


Phuket Bike Week revs up with ‘World Ride Together’

Why are they wearing pudding basins on their heads?...(Read More)


Phuket expat praised for fixing holey road, local administrations panned

When the Phuket Governor reads this he can swallow all his sayings about 'Phuket Smart City'. How to create a Phuket Smart city with Phuket...(Read More)


One killed, several injured when minivan driver loses control off Phuket

Well, the photo show clearly the company name. A company which seems not to care to have kamikaze drivers driving their Vans. Is it not possible ...(Read More)


Phuket expat praised for fixing holey road, local administrations panned

" We'll see what we cannot do.." Comedy Gold !! That man might find the labor dept paying a visit. tsk tsk Embarassing Thais, er,.. I me...(Read More)

The Phuket News
PHUKET NEWS
Phuket
Thailand
World
Business
Q A
Weird World
ARCHIVE
POLL
CURRENCY
WEATHER
PHUKET TIDE TABLE
The Phuket News PHUKET LIFE
Phuket Arts
Phuket Community
Phuket Culture
Phuket Dining
Phuket Education
Phuket Entertainment
Phuket Environment
Phuket Health
Phuket People
Phuket Technology
Phuket Travel
Photo Galleries
COLOURING BOOK
The Phuket News PHUKET SPORT
Phuket
Thailand
World
SURF REPORT
PREDICTIONS
The Phuket News PHUKET CLASSIFIEDS
Phuket Buy and Sell
Phuket Jobs
Phuket Property
Phuket Cars and Boats
Phuket Community
Phuket Services
SEARCH CLASSIFIEDS
POST CLASSIFIED
The Phuket News The Phuket News PHUKET EVENTS
Phuket Event listings
Phuket Event calendar
Buy Tickets
POST EVENT
The Phuket News PHUKET DIRECTORY
Phuket Bars, pubs and clubs
Phuket Hotels and villas
Phuket Restaurants
Phuket Yellow Pages
POST LISTING
The Phuket News BARGAINS
The Phuket News ABOUT US
The Company
Distribution points
Subscribe
Advertise with us
Pay for advert
Contact us
CONTESTS
Content Google Map
Site map
Australian Visa Services
 
Currency - The Phuket News   Weather Report - The Phuket News   Surf Report - The Phuket News
LinkedIn - The Phuket News   Twitter - The Phuket News   YouTube - The Phuket News   Facebook - The Phuket News
Copyright © 2017 Class Act Media. All rights reserved. | Website usage terms and conditions | Privacy and Confidentiality Statement.