Wednesday, August 31, 2011

24 Herb Tea - Bitter, Foul-Tasting But Oh So Good For You!

Was out running a couple of errands this entire afternoon and ended up buying groceries at the nearby supermarket. If I had a choice I wouldn't go into this decade-old supermarket because it's small, cramped and you tend to knock into other shoppers with your trolley (yes, the aisles are that narrow). Nic and I figured that we might as well buy our groceries since we were in this vicinity and he did need some coffee. Finally we ended up with a trolley full of cheese, butter, coffee and noodles.

Anyway, I was getting thirsty after all the errands and shopping.

We decided to stop and have a drink at this stall which sells Chinese herbal tea. This uncle who mans it is actually a Hong Kong native who has been living in Malaysia for a long time. He drives a little white van which he parks at the corner of a junction and opens up for business. You see, he sells hot and cold Chinese herbal teas of all types - the kind that is slowly boiled and brewed.

It's common to see Malaysians of all walks of life - businessmen types, sales executives, men, women - who stop by his van to get herbal tea served either in a Chinese soup bowl or plastic cup to quench their thirst and give their bodies a good replenishing of vital nutrients.

He has Five Flower Tea as well as the bitter and foul-tasting 24 Herb Tea.

If you've slept late, worked too hard, been under stress, ate out a lot and exercised too little, the friendly uncle will recommend that you drink 24 Herb Tea, served in a Chinese bowl (RM2.50 per bowl). If you are seriously under the weather (flu or feeling down in the dumps), he would ask if you want some bitter powder added to the tea.

The bitter powder is something that is powerful because if you have the flu, one sip of this tea with bitter powder will probably kill all your germs! It's that foul-tasting!

24 Herb Tea is an all-round tea for cold and cough, fever, headache, tiredness, pathogenic dryness and heat in combination, constipation, halitosis, anorexia, abdominal dissension, weakness, dizziness, pimples and acne. Regularly imbibing this tea will make you hale and hearty.

I was interested to know what is in 24 Herb Tea. We Chinese are damn literal folks. If there are 24 ingredients in the tea, we say it is 24 Herb Tea.

I read that Hor Yan Hor brand also sells this 24 Herb tea in convenient tea bags. I wonder if they consist of the same 24 herbs. Apparently, the tea is touted as the magic cure-all tea for all aches, pains, fevers and such. Their ingredient list contains Camellia sinensis, Glycyrrhiza uralensis, Prunella vulgaris, Gardenia jasminoides, Perilla futescens, Atractylodes lancea, Forsythia suspensa, Scrophularia ningpoensis, Mentha arvensis, Agastache rugosa, Schizonepeta tenuifolia, Cincifuga heracleifolia, Ledeboriella divaricata, Rheum oficinale, Ligusticum wallichii, Buplearum chinense, Angelica anomata, Platycondon gradiflorum, Notopterygium incisum, Elsholtzia splendens, Poncirus trifoliata.

In HK, I've bought Chinese herbal teas in 500 ml plastic bottles (HK$18 each), just like the soda you can buy in 7-11 stores. Whenever I land in HK, I'd be amazed at the wonderful varieties of hot and cold Chinese herbal teas for all types of ailments which you can buy easily from any MRT station where these herbal tea shops are mostly found.

Of course in HK, Chinese tea shops are just about everywhere. Tired and thirsty after a day's walking? Stop by a traditional Chinese tea shop and get your fill of herbal goodness.

Replica of a traditional Chinese herbal tea shop inside the HK Art Museum. It's so 1960s!

As for me, I love anything that's bitter because I know it does my body a lot of good. What about you? Are you up to drinking stuff which tastes horrid but is beneficial to your health?

Here's how the exhibition looks like. 

And here's the real HK Chinese tea shop. This was taken in Central on one of our jaunts last year. That's Nic (bottom right corner of the pic).

The Ancient Art of Tea: Wisdom From the Ancient Chinese Tea Masters
Dim Sum: The Art of Chinese Tea Lunch
Chinese Art of Tea

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