PaoCha is a pop-up in south London specialising in Chinese tea and dim sum.
It’s not all about the builders, the assam or the earl grey. The world of tea has so much more to discover, as my wonderful guests this past sunday afternoon discovered. Here is a quick lowdown of what we gulped down:
开花茶 － Flowering Osmanthus Tea A bundle of green tea buds wrapped around an Osmanthus flower. Put into a glass teapot to watch as hot water is poured over the bundle, the Osmanthus opens out. Going to be honest, it is not the best tea for drinking (as the best buds wouldn’t be used for this) but it is visually beautiful.
铁观音 – Tie Guan Yin – Iron Buddha Oolong Tea Often referred to as Monkey-picked oolong (an old wives tale, there were no monkeys hurt in the making of this), this tea has a fresh and fruity flavour (so much so that if you close your eyes, you could be in the tea fields themselves). It is picked in Anxi in Fujian province.
福鼎白茶 – FuDing BaiCha – Silver Needle White Tea The Champagne of tea, this white tea (well the real one) is only grown in a small specific region of Fujian province, Southern China. It is smooth, sweet and soft with a floral but clean aroma.
岩茶肉桂 – YanCha RouGui – Cassia Bark Oolong Tea This cliff tea from Wuyi Mountain in Fujian is a much darker and richer oolong than the Iron Buddha, with gorgeous aromatics. It has a smoked wood flavour with honeyed aftertaste.
云南普洱 – YunNan Cooked Pu’er A rich dark tea (even darker than our black tea) from the western Chinese province of Yunnan, this tea still comes in cakes like those used to trade back in the days of the Silk Road. It has an earthy aroma but lingering sweetness to it. A little like a red wine, this tea is meant to get better with age.
龙井绿茶 – LongJing LuCha – Dragon Well Green Tea One of the most famous teas in China, from Zhejiang Province, this puts all other Green tea to shame with it’s toasty and almost chest nutty refreshing flavour.
康茶 － Kang Cha – Xi Mei Village Tea Possibly (I reckon anyway) the first of this tea to ever make it to the UK, this tea was bought in Xi Mei, a traditional tea village at the foot of Wuyi Mountain. It is known as a ‘health tea’ and normally only drank by the locals (not sold to the tourists). It has a bitter and somewhat off-putting smell and also taste, but after several infusions produces a strong sweetness on the roof of the mouth. If you fancy discovering the world of Chinese tea with us (with some yummy Chinese food too), keep an eye out for our next event!
People ask where my obsession with tea came from. To be honest, I think as soon as you taste the tea I have tasted, questions will no longer be asked. But, just in case I am biased, I will still attempt to answer this question.
If I think back to my university days, I was caught muttering to myself, ‘I love how tea is that little bit thicker than water‘. No, I have never lived it down. And no, what I said makes no sense. But at the time of saying it I was deep in my own thoughts, oblivious to the world, with a feeling of content. And that is why I love tea. Its the best thinking drink. It is almost like wine, but socially acceptable at all times, doesn’t bring out the alcohol anger, and comes sans (without) hangover. What else could you ask for? (apart from the fact it is also warming, has hundreds of health benefits and has a diverse range of aromas.. of if we are being posh, palettes). More tea knowledge from the tea obsessive to come.
This morning we hosted a delightful crowd at our very first Chinese Tea and Dim Sum Sunday Brunch.
Here is a sneak peak at a few items off our dining menu:
铁观音 – Tie Guan Yin – Iron Buddha Oolong Tea
Often referred to as Monkey-picked oolong (an old wives tale, there were no monkeys hurt in themaking of this), this tea has a fresh and fruity flavour (so much so that if you close your eyes, you could be in the tea fields themselves).
龙井绿茶 – LongJing LuCha – Dragon Well Green Tea
One of the most famous teas in China, from Zhejiang Province, this puts all other Green tea to shame with it’s toasty and almost chestnutty flavour.
Dim Sum Dishes
炒菠菜 (Chao Bo Cai)
Lightly fried fresh baby spinach leaves with a splash of soy sauce, a sprinkling of garlic in a Chinese broth. It is extremely simple, elegant and delicious dish and a staple in nearly all Chinese home cooking.
包子 (Bao Zi)
Baozi can be found throughout China, often seen in towers of steamers lining the streets early in the morning, stuffed with anything from meat to custard. Eaten any time from breakfast to an evening snack, this is a Chinese staple. Today we served them in a bamboo steamer with a side of soy sauce and Chinese vinegar. Our buns were stuffed with either red-braised diced butternut squash.
橘子 (Ju Zi)
Tangerines and oranges are considered a lucky food in Chinese tradition which are often eaten during big celebrations. Tangerine in Chinese sounds similar to the word luck and orange sounds like the Chinese word for wealth. The bright orange color of tangerines symbolizes gold. Through the play of words, the Chinese associate the serving of oranges and tangerine as having an abundance of happiness and prosperity. Therefore we served a citrus-mousse filled tangerine in the hope of sending you our guests off happier and fuller (well in food) than they arrived!
If that sounds good to you make sure you keep an eye out for our future brunches!