Yum Cha Dim Sum (飲茶點心)

Today, I invited a very special friend over to my place for dim sum and to try five different types of tea made using the kung-fu tea method.

Here’s the set up!

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The black plates are actually plate mats. I never knew such things exist until my sister-in-law loaned them to me. Initially, I popped by my brother’s place to take some colourfully designed napkins. Whenever we have family meals at their place, the one thing that stands out (to me) during every meal, is how the table has been set with really awesome napkins. I thought that I could improve the set-up with just the napkins.

My sister-in-law went the extra mile (why don’t we say the “extra kilometre” since we use metric and not the imperial measurement system?) of recommending me other cool things to borrow from her. This included the black plate mats as well as the the chopstick holders that’s been shaped like a chilli! Look closely at the photo below!

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See? It’s a chilli! Cute right?

Anyway, I’m quite lucky to have a dim sum place not too far from my house. It sells super affordable dim sum from 6pm to 10am. Yes! They are actually open throughout the entire night! Maybe one day, when I’m feeling crazy, I’ll walk down at 3 or 4am for a fantastic late-night feast. For some strange reason, the lack of sleep makes food taste even more awesome than they normally do. I say this with experience, as someone who has had to stay up for several nights just to write essays during semester time. Subway, KFC, McDonald’s and even microwave lasagne taste really awesome when eaten between 3-4am. I’m sure dim sum would too.

Anyway, here’s a close-up of the delicious looking dim sum!

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MMMMMmmmmmm!!!

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MMMmmmm!!! Looks so tasty.

Anyway, in addition to the delicious dim sum, we also tried five different types of tea. Have a look at my kung-fu tea-making tools!

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The white and blue box is Lung-ching tea (龍井茶). Haha… I’m displaying it in this photo simply because it’s the only tea that I got that’s packaged beautifully. The rest are either in jars or bags.

So today, we tried Genmaicha (玄米茶 also known as Brown Rice Green Tea or Popcorn Tea), Tie Kuan-yin King (鐵觀音王), Lung-ching tea (龍井茶), Pu-erh tea (普洱茶), and Maccha (抹茶). Simply fantastic! Ahh… I love tea.

Here’s an extract from one of my favourite books of all time – The Book of Tea.

Strangely enough humanity has so far met in the tea-cup. It is the only Asiatic ceremonial which commands universal esteem. The white man has scoffed at our religion and our morals, but has accepted the brown beverage without hesitation. The afternoon tea is now an important function in Western society. In the delicate clatter of trays and saucers, in the soft rustle of feminine hospitality, in the common catechism about cream and sugar, we know that the Worship of Tea is established beyond question. The philosophic resignation of the guest to the fate awaiting him in the dubious decoction proclaims that in this single instance the Oriental spirit reigns supreme.

[…]

There is a subtle charm in the taste of tea which makes it irresistible and capable of idealisation. Western humourists were not slow to mingle the fragrance of their thought with its aroma. It has not the arrogance of wine, the self- consciousness of coffee, nor the simpering innocence of cocoa. Already in 1711, says the Spectator: “I would therefore in a particular manner recommend these my speculations to all well-regulated families that set apart an hour every morning for tea, bread and butter; and would earnestly advise them for their good to order this paper to be punctually served up and to be looked upon as a part of the tea-equipage.” Samuel Johnson draws his own portrait as “a hardened and shameless tea drinker, who for twenty years diluted his meals with only the infusion of the fascinating plant; who with tea amused the evening, with tea solaced the midnight, and with tea welcomed the morning.”

Charles Lamb, a professed devotee, sounded the true note of Teaism when he wrote that the greatest pleasure he knew was to do a good action by stealth, and to have it found out by accident. For Teaism is the art of concealing beauty that you may discover it, of suggesting what you dare not reveal. It is the noble secret of laughing at yourself, calmly yet thoroughly, and is thus humour itself,–the smile of philosophy. All genuine humourists may in this sense be called tea-philosophers,–Thackeray, for instance, and of course, Shakespeare. The poets of the Decadence (when was not the world in decadence?), in their protests against materialism, have, to a certain extent, also opened the way to Teaism. Perhaps nowadays it is our demure contemplation of the Imperfect that the West and the East can meet in mutual consolation.

[Kakuzo Okakura, “The Book of Tea”, 1]

There’s a lot more that can be said about the awesomeness of tea, but I think I’ll just leave it as that.

It’s really awesome having friends come over for tea or a meal. I share the same sentiments with Confucius on this:

有朋自遠方來,不亦樂乎?

Isn’t it a joy when a friend comes to visit from afar?

[Confucius, Analects 1.1]

Tea and dim sum with awesome company – makes today a really awesome and joyful day indeed. =)

UPDATE: This was actually the very meal where I first confessed my love to The Girlfriend. That’s why the meal was soooo special!