Leung cha, “cooling tea” is an integral part of every Hongkonger’s childhood, as well as a fixture of the city’s very own intangible cultural heritage. Serving dark medicinal drinks in ceramic bowls or plastic cups, Chinese herbal tea shops are a familiar sight on many a Hong Kong street. These cooling teas may not look very appealing, but you can always rely on them to stop a pimple or two from popping up after a fast food binge. For the uninitiated, the world of herbal teas can be daunting and downright confusing. That’s why we’re here to guide you through the most common types of herbal tea, what they are for, and where to find them, preparing you to order like a true local in no time.
24 Herbs | Ya Sei Mei
Best for: Skin problems (acne, eczema, skin allergies, etc.)
“24 Herbs” is like that model student you see at school who’s just good at everything. It’s an all-around, cure-all tea that your mum will always tell you to drink when you have pimples breaking out, or you’re feeling under a tad under the weather. As its name suggests, this tea is composed of over 20 different kinds of Chinese medicinal herbs, all boiled together to make one dark and bitter drink. While the exact ingredients and recipes vary from shop to shop, some common herbs found in 24 Herbs include mulberry leaf, luohan guo (monk fruit), peppermint, and more. The cooling nature of 24 Herbs helps clear out the yeet hei (accumulated heat and toxins) in your body.
Good Spring Company Limited, G/F, 8 Cochrane Street, Central, +852 25443518
Canton Love-pes Vine Tea | Gai Gwut Cho Cha
Best for: Stress-induced troubles (insomnia, fatigue, muscle tension, etc.)
Ever had those days when you’re just so tired and stressed out, that you have no patience to deal with anyone and just can’t function? That’s where the Canton Love-pes Vine Tea comes in. Made from ingredients such as cane sugar, canton love-pes vine, dates, and liquorice root, this tea is said to help relieve fatigue and stop you from snapping at your friends by clearing away heat, improve your liver function, and general wellbeing.
Hung Fook Tong, Shop 58, Hong Kong Station, 1 Harbour View Street, Central
Five Flower Tea | Ng Fa Cha
Best for: Mouth ulcers, sore throats, cold
The Five Flower Tea is typically made from chrysanthemum, honeysuckle, silk cotton, plumeria rubra, and pueraria lobate. Hongkongers usually drink this after one too many late nights and too much junk or heavily flavoured food. It’s one of the more popular herbal teas because of its sweetness. The easiest way to tell whether or not a cup Five Flower Tea will do you good, is if you have mouth ulcers popping up. From a Chinese medicine perspective, mouth ulcers are an indication that you have too much humidity (heat and dampness) in your spleen and stomach, or that you are too dehydrated. When this is the case, the Five Flower Tea clears and detoxifies your body, as well as soothes sore throats and prevent colds.
Hung Fook Tong, G/F, 87 Percival Street, Causeway Bay
Self-heal Spike Tea | Ha Gu Cho Cha
Best for: Liver disorders, decrease blood pressure
Mildly bitter in taste, Self-heal spike tea is a popular cooling drink to prevent heatstroke in the summer months. Made with liquorice root, this tea is also commonly used in Chinese medicine to prevent chapped lips, treat liver disorders (known as liver fire in Chinese medicine), regulate blood pressure, treat inflammation, and other diseases. It’s also commonly used to improve eyesight and relieve bloodshot eyes.
Herbaceous Teas, Shop ETS6, East Tsim Sha Tsui Station Exit J
Drain Dampness Tea | Hui Sup Cha
Best for: Bloating
In Chinese medicine, your health hinges on the balance between all the elements in your body. When your body has a higher proportion of water retention – “dampness”, it’s considered a source of illness. You can tell you have a lot of dampness if you haven’t been able to eat much or if you’re feeling sluggish for no reason. With ingredients such as white mulberry, dried mandarin peel, and ginger, the Drain Dampness Tea clears away bloating, detoxes your body, and strengthens the spleen to increase the body’s ability to dispel water.
Herbaceous Teas, Shop 1A4, G/f Century Centre, 44-46 Hung To Road, Kwun Tong, Kowloon
Hemp Seed Tea | Fo Ma Yun Cha
Best for: Digestive system disorders (e.g. gastroenteritis, irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux)
Fo Ma Yun Tea is made from the seeds of hemp, also known as Cannabis. Now, now, before you get too excited, you should know that this herbal tea won’t get you high like marijuana. The nutrient-rich hemp seeds are lightly roasted before being crushed and boiled into hemp seed tea. The result is a thick and slightly sweet drink that lubricates your body, improves digestion, and helps ease bowel movements.
Wang Ming Tong, G/F, 331 To Kwa Wan Road, Wyler Garden, To Kwa Wan, Kowloon
Read More! Want to know more about Hong Kong culture? Check out 7 Traditional Hong Kong Wedding Rituals You Need to Know, or explore the rest of our Culture section.