The Tea Princess and the Chinese Restaurant Tea

A sudden craving for Chinese food drove this “Tea Princess” and her hubby from hearth and home out into the wilds of the city to satisfy our appetites. Little did we realize the tea disaster awaiting us!

Styrofoam? And a teabag!?! At a Chinese restaurant!!?!!
Styrofoam? And a teabag!?! At a Chinese restaurant!!?!!

In case you haven’t been following my “Tea Princess” adventures, it all has to do with the dearth of proper tea preparation and service in restaurants and other eateries. It also has to do with the occasional good tea experience hubby and I have come across “out there.”

Well, back to our search for the perfect craving satisfier. I have to add at this point in the story that I had awakened that morning with a bit of a tummy ache that seemed rather persistent and made me want to avoid anything too spicy. So we didn’t go to our fave place that specialized in Szechaun cuisine. We figured we would drive around a bit and find a good place that served the milder Cantonese cuisine. Wanting to make the most of our excursion, we took some items along with us that were destined for the local resale shop. That put us near a small Chinese restaurant where we had eaten about a year ago. If memory served us well, the food had been pretty good, so we took a chance and stopped in for lunch.

I was careful when ordering. A nice, bland stir fried chicken and vegetables with white rice seemed to fill the bill. All was well until I realized that we were missing something: tea!

We ordered two hot teas (they had iced tea available in one of those stainless steel dispensers and various colas in one of those fountain machines) and expected the type of tea we were used to from our fave Szechuan restaurant, that is, a stainless steel teapot full of very hot oolong or green tea. What we got were two 16-ounce Styrofoam cups filled with boiling hot water and a tea bag floating in each. The faint aroma of jasmine wafted from the tea bags, meaning this was a green tea. Boiling water was not quite the right temperature to steep in!

Different teas need different steeping temperatures to bring out the tea flavors properly. Green tea normally steeps up in water heated to around 160-180°F (70-82° C). Using boiling water tends to oversteep the tea and spoil the taste. So, this Tea Princess trembled at the prospect of that first sip. I’ve also tried a number of jasmine teas in the past and was a bit nonplussed by how faint the aroma of this tea was — usually the floral fragrance fairly knocks me over.

Hubby and I sipped on the tea very carefully to avoid scalding. Weak. Weak. Weak. Ugh! We sipped anyway to have something to wash down our food but still ended up with a full cup of tea that we took home, tea bag and all. We let it sit awhile, steeping and cooling, and found the results a little stronger. It turned out that the tea had to steep a long time to get any flavor, and even then, the flavor was not anywhere close to what we’ve had in the past. This Tea Princess ended up drinking only a small amount, and even hubby could not bring himself to finish it off, since the flavor was more like hot water that had sat too long on the boil and then something rancid had dropped in it.

That’ll teach me for not bringing my tea kit along!

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