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Last Updated on August 23, 2022 by Scott
China is a vast country with varying cultures, cuisines, and traditions. One of those traditions is tea, and there’s a lot of them! Have you ever wondered what kind of tea is typically served at Chinese restaurants? While all Chinese restaurants will vary, a few tea staples in Chinese cuisine stand out above the rest.
Though Chinese restaurants serve many types of tea, a few of the most popular teas are oolong tea, green jasmine tea, green tea, and blended teas.
In this article, we’ll go into detail about each of these teas, describing how they’re made, how to brew them, and why they’re popular in Chinese cuisine. So let’s drink up.
Common Types of Tea Served in Chinese Restaurants:
Oolong tea is one of the oldest forms of tea in China. It was originally used as a medicinal beverage, but it became more widely known after its introduction to Japan during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). Today, oolong tea is still consumed for health benefits, but it has also become an everyday beverage enjoyed by millions of people around the world.
Though oolong tea represents only 2% of the tea manufactured and consumed worldwide, it’s especially popular in Chinese restaurants and possesses a few key differences from other teas on this list. So what makes it special? Well, oolong tea contains the qualities of both dark and green teas, giving it distinct benefits and taste.
How is Oolong Tea Made?
Oolong tea is made from Camellia sinensis leaves—the same leaves that are used to make green tea. However, what sets oolong apart is how the leaves are prepared. Oolong tea uses oxidized leaves, a chemical process that occurs when leaves are exposed to air and sunlight. Oxidation of tea leaves is what changes the color and taste of different teas.
The process of making oolong tea begins with the selection of high quality leaves that have been handpicked. The leaves are then steamed until they turn light brown, which helps preserve their nutrients and flavors. Next, the leaves are rolled into balls or twisted together into strands, depending on the type of tea being produced.
After rolling, the leaves are left to dry naturally over time. This allows the leaves to develop a unique flavor profile, while retaining some of the essential oils and antioxidants found in the original plant material. Finally, the dried leaves are infused with water, producing a rich, flavorful beverage.
Unlike green tea leaves, oolong tea leaves are prepared by wilting them in the sun to promote partial oxidation.
And unlike black tea leaves, oolong leaves are left intact—to prepare black tea, the leaves are crushed and fully oxidized. This is how oolong combines the benefits of both black and green teas.
How is Oolong Tea Brewed?
There are several different brewing methods depending on the form your oolong tea leaves take. Most often, you’ll have loose-leaf tea, which should be prepared in a teapot with an infuser for best results.
Brewing time and the ratio of tea leaves to water also change depending on the type of oolong tea you have, but 2 grams of leaves per cup of water is generally sufficient. Tea should be steeped in 185-200F water for 2-3 minutes.
While Oolong tea can be brewed using any method you prefer, if you want to get the best results at home, we recommend brewing your oolong tea like this:
- Bring 1 cup of boiling water to a boil (based on the recommended temperature).
- Add 4 teaspoons of loose oolong tea leaves to the boiling water.
- Cover the pot and allow the tea to steep for 3 minutes.
- Strain and enjoy!
Why is Oolong Tea Popular in Chinese Restaurants?
Oolong tea is popular for its unique flavor and health benefits. Like other teas on this list, oolong tea can help reduce inflammation in your body and boost your metabolism. But what else can it do?
Oolong tea contains several important nutrients and possesses numerous health benefits. In addition to caffeine, oolong tea also contains vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium and antioxidants called polyphenols that aid in digestion and brain health.
In fact, oolong tea has more than 100 times as many antioxidants as green tea! These powerful compounds may help protect against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Oolong tea also offers a number of digestive benefits. It contains tannins, which help break down proteins and fats in your stomach. Tannins also help prevent harmful bacteria from
Green tea is certainly popular — people in China are responsible for nearly 50% of the world’s total green tea consumption! Green tea has been popular in China for thousands of years for its mild, natural flavor and health benefits.
How is Green Tea Made?
Green tea is prepared from Camellia sinensis leaves and buds that haven’t undergone oxidation. Once the leaves are collected, they are steamed and pan-fried before drying. Since green tea is not fermented like black tea, it retains a high level of antioxidants.
This method preserves most of the beneficial components in the leaves, including the catechins (antioxidants), amino acids, and chlorophyll.
How is Green Tea Brewed?
Green tea should be brewed at a ratio of about 2 grams per cup of water. Water should be around 185F and should steep for 3 minutes. In order not to release the bitter notes of the tea, it’s important to bring the tea to the water—that is, fill your vessel with hot water before adding your tea leaves.
Why is Green Tea Popular in Chinese Restaurants?
Green tea is an extremely popular drink, touted to be one of the healthiest beverages in existence. Green tea provides you with powerful antioxidants that protect your cells against free radicals, aiding in the prevention of health conditions like certain cancers, cognitive issues, and heart health. Green tea’s mild caffeine content helps you wake up in the morning feeling fresh, reducing inflammation in your body and kickstarting your metabolism.
Green Jasmine Tea
Green Jasmine tea is one of the most popular floral teas in East Asia. With origins in China, it’s no wonder this tea is a staple at Chinese restaurants everywhere.
How is Green Jasmine Tea Made?
Jasmine green tea is prepared by exposing green tea leaves to Jasmine blossoms. The leaves and blossoms are stored or blended together, infusing the green tea leaves with the aroma of Jasmine.
How is Green Jasmine Tea Brewed?
Jasmine tea should be brewed at a ratio of 2-5 grams of tea leaves per cup of water. Like oolong tea, Jasmine tea is typically prepared in loose leaves with a tea infuser. Water should be at 175F and steep for no more than 3 minutes.
Why is Green Jasmine Tea Popular in Chinese Restaurants?
Jasmine tea is popular in Chinese restaurants for its elegant flavor and aroma. It also pairs well with spicy foods, making it the perfect match for Chinese cuisine.
Since Jasmine tea is made with green tea leaves, it boasts the same health benefits as green tea, such as antioxidants that protect against free radical damage, a boost to your metabolism, and support for your brain and heart health.
Blended tea is a type of tea that combines multiple different kinds of leaves together. There are several reasons why blending teas is done. One reason is to make sure that all the flavors come out evenly when brewed.
Another reason is to make sure the leaves stay fresh longer. Blending teas also allows for the creation of new blends. For example, some blends may contain only black tea leaves, but others may contain green tea leaves.
Blended teas are works of art, requiring tea experts to blend components to create the perfect combination of flavors. Blended teas are unique experiences and are constantly open to innovation.
How Are Blended Teas Made?
Blended teas are created by combining tea leaves from different regions or blending tea leaves with flowers or herbs to create distinct flavor combinations.
One example you’ve already seen is jasmine tea, which is produced by blending green tea leaves with jasmine blossoms.
How Are Blended Teas Brewed?
Brewing instructions depend on the blend you’ve selected. Since the possibilities for tea blends are almost endless, use your discretion when preparing these teas. However, most blends will follow similar instructions to the other instructions above, as they’re usually also brewed in a loose-leaf form.
Why Are Blended Teas Popular in Chinese Restaurants?
Blended teas provide new flavors and combinations that can serve different purposes. For example, you can combine herbs with green tea leaves to create herbal teas with new health benefits, not to mention the change in flavor. As Chinese cuisine develops, tea blends can develop alongside it, creating perfect combinations for any occasion.
You may not know the name, but there is a good chance you have had pu-erh tea at least once in your lifetime. A lot of people think it tastes like coffee, but it isn’t.
It is actually a type of fermented tea that originated in China. In fact, it is one of the oldest types of tea known to man.
There are many different varieties of pu-erh tea, each with its own unique taste and aroma. Some people even claim that pu-erh tea helps reduce cholesterol levels.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What are the most common teas served at Chinese restaurants?
The most popular teas served inside Chinese restaurants are Oolong tea, green tea, jasmine green tea, and blended teas. It also isn’t uncommon at some Chinese restaurants to find teas such as Pu-erh tea and black tea, either by themselves or blended.
Q: Why are only certain teas served at Chinese restaurants?
If you’re dining at a Chinese restaurant, you should expect exactly that – food, beverages, and atmosphere reminiscent of China. Each of the teas served in Chinese restaurants are widely popular in Chinese culture.
The flavors of Oolong tea, green tea, jasmine green tea, and blended tea also pair well with Chinese cuisine and have health benefits, especially green tea, which has been hailed as one of the healthiest drinks people can consume. As stated before in this article, China accounts for roughly 50% of the world’s green tea consumption.
While some restaurants might have non-Chinese teas available upon request, such as herbal teas and tisanes native to Europe or to the United States, it seems counterintuitive to have order non-Chinese tea at a Chinese restaurant.
Q: Do Chinese restaurants serve instant tea?
No. The tea served at Chinese restaurants is brewed the traditional way, with tea leaves added to boiling water and steeped.
Q: Are the teas served in Chinese restaurants outside of China also served at restaurants within China?
The teas served in Chinese restaurants are generally the same, both inside and outside of China. There may be a larger selection of Chinese teas, but they are available alongside the ones mentioned in this article.
One difference you may notice inside China, however, is that seldom will you see instant tea or tea bags available in China. Loose leaf tea is the norm.
Tea is an important part of Chinese culture and cuisine and is just as varied. Different teas are made and brewed differently, and though many teas offer similar benefits, they each provide unique flavor palettes to complement any cuisine. So next time you visit a Chinese restaurant, take note of the selection of teas offered (it’s likely to be one of those we’ve outlined here).
Scott is the founder of TeaMinded. He enjoys tasting and discovering teas from across the globe, with green teas and ceremonial matcha from Japan being among his favorites. He’s grateful to be immersed in the tea community, always learning and sharing along the journey.