Yangzhou’s Afternoon Tea Reveals China’s Only Tea Blend Kui Long Zhu
While in the West tea blends are popular, it’s not something many Chinese consume, except from herbal blends. In fact, I’ve never heard of any type of official tea blend consisting of different tea leaves only, until I learned about Yangzhou’s afternoon tea!
‘Eat’ Afternoon Tea in Yangzhou’s Tea Houses
China’s tea houses are often romanticised as a social meeting place. While this used to be true in the past, today’s tea houses are more exclusive and serving the rich. Luckily, some cities like Yangzhou still preserve this traditional custom. Yangzhou people like to ‘eat’ afternoon tea, as many small dishes are served and enjoyed along with a traditional Kui Long Zhu tea.
There’s a saying ‘早上皮包水，晚上水包皮’ referring to ancient Yangzhou elite that love to hang in tea houses during the day, while relaxing in traditional Yangzhou spas in the evening. While such luxury isn’t reflecting today’s reality, certainly the custom of drinking tea is preserved, and even gone mainstream.
The Blend: Kui Long Zhu
Kui Long Zhu (魁龙珠) is a blend that consists of 3 types of teas which are: Longjing, Kuizhen, and Lanzhu. It was developed by Jing Jiancheng, who was an owner of a tea store during late Qing dynasty. The tree types of teas are combined based on certain proportion to optimise the taste.
Zhejiang province’s Longjing gives the tea an amazing color, while Yangzhou’s own Lanzhu was added for the unique aroma. At last, Anhui province’s Kuizhen is part of the blend for its long lasting taste. Thus, it’s said that the same tea leaves can last for 4 brews without losing color and flavour.
The result is a perfected tea blend that combines the taste of teas from 3 different provinces in one pot (一江水煮三省茶). Therefore, this tea is also known as ‘三省茶’, literally translated as ‘3 Provinces Tea’.
Fans of this blends like it because:
- 头道茶，珠兰香扑鼻: The first brew; enjoy the flowery orchid aroma.
- 二道茶，龙井味正浓: The second brew; enjoy the strong flavour of longjing.
- 三道茶，魁针色不减: The third brew; the kuizhen leaves make sure the color of the tea still remains in the third brew.
'Fu Chun Cha She' Tea House
If you planning a trip to Yangzhou, you should visit the oldest tea house ‘Fu Chun Cha She’ (富春茶社) to experience the traditional dishes with Kui Long Zhu. That’s what I told myself. After looking on a Chinese review site (Dianping), I found that the reviews seem really poor! Generally, reviewers didn’t like any dish and the place didn’t look clean. So if you happen to be in Yangzhou, perhaps visiting a tea house that doesn’t rely on the it’s name is a better choice. Of course, don’t forget to order Kui Long Zhu tea!
Because Yangzhou isn’t a tea growing region, I don’t have this on my trip schedule. However, I am definitely gonna try to find this blend online (or order the teas separately and blend myself) to try and see if it can live up to its reputation.