Header image courtesy of YinYang (via iStock)
Originally published by Doris Lam. Last updated by Beverly Ngai.
Chinese herbal tea, also known as leung cha (涼茶; “cooling tea”), has always been something that Chinese mums would make their kids drink when feeling under the weather. These days, a new generation of modernised herbal tea shops—which pride themselves on being a lot easier on the tastebuds—has sprung up in Hong Kong in a bid to appeal to the younger generation. Whether you are loyal to centuries-old, family-run shops or if you are looking to ease yourself into the habit through a modern take, here are some of the best places to hit up for Chinese herbal tea.
Be it a sore throat, a common cold, or just a case of dehydration on a stifling summer’s day, residents of Sham Shui Po have been seeking out this tried-and-trusted herbal tea shop to relieve their everyday ailments for over 60 years. Keeping their quality consistent and prices dirt-cheap, Wai Long Hou (惠隆號) specialises in just four drinks, namely five-flower tea ($7), 24 herbs tea ($7), common cold tea ($18), and chrysanthemum tea ($7). All of their brews have been carefully honed to perfection, but it’s their fragrant, honey-sweetened silver chrysanthemum tea that has long-time customers coming back again and again.
Wai Long Hou Herbal Tea Shop (惠隆號東莞佬涼茶), 238 Yee Kuk Street, Sham Shui Po | (+852) 2387 3206
Found in almost all MTR stations and in large-scale shopping malls across Hong Kong, Hung Fook Tong (鴻福堂) is a household name for Chinese herbal teas. Its local success story started out like any other traditional herb tea shop in 1986, but thanks to the company’s constant innovation, Hung Fook Tong has grown exponentially over the past decades and become an iconic city-wide chain.
While adhering to time-honoured philosophies of Chinese herbal medicine at its core, Hung Fook Tong flexes its creativity when it comes to flavours and blends. You’ll find the usual suspects like 24 herbs tea ($24) and five-flower tea ($24) sold alongside unique beverages like begonia fimbristipula hance drink ($24) and pear tea with yellow Himalayan fritillary & loquat leaves ($28), as well as a bevy of other healthy soups and snacks.
Although sugarcane juice is their claim to fame—and their sole business when they first opened in 1948—Kung Lee Sugarcane Juice (公利真料竹蔗水) now also peddles some fantastic herbal teas and jellies. Their selection of herbal teas is not overly extensive, but they have all the basics covered, including five-flower tea (starting from $12), sesame tea (starting from $12), and Canton abrus herb tea (starting from $14). You can have it either bottled up to drink on the go or—the cheaper option—straight from a cup. If you opt for the latter, there are a few Chinese-style wooden tables and chairs inside for you to sit down and enjoy your refreshing drink!
Kung Lee Sugarcane Juice (公利真料竹蔗水), 60 Hollywood Road, Soho, Central | (+852) 2544 3571
Herbaceous Teas has been operating in Hong Kong since 2013, but it was not until a few years ago that they increased in popularity and their number of franchises increased. Not only do they have a selection of grab-and-go traditional Chinese herbal teas and cold-brewed teas, but they also have dried tea leaves and concentrated drink pastes for you to easily brew some at home yourself.
Opt for the American ginseng tea ($70) or rose tea ($27) to cool down on a hot day. Its modern packaging, glass containers, and minimalistic aesthetic are especially attractive factors for the younger generation.
Known for their herbal jelly or guilinggao (龜苓膏; tortoise jelly), this herbal tea spot in Tsuen Wan is popular with locals who need a quick remedy after indulging in an unhealthy meal. Chun Wo Tong’s herbal jelly is served cold or hot with small ($24), medium ($30), and large ($35) sizes for you to choose from. They also have several herbal tea options, including our favourite anti-inflammatory spica prunellae & hemp seed tea, a nutty-flavoured drink that’s nutrient-dense and good for those with digestive problems.
Chun Wo Tong (中和堂), 30B Chuen Lung Street, Tsuen Wan | (+852) 2490 9678
Possibly the most famous herbal tea spot in Hong Kong, you’ve probably passed by Good Spring Company (春回堂藥行) at least once, thanks to its central location by the Soho escalators. Founded in Guangzhou’s Panyu District, they later opened a Hong Kong branch in 1916. Now, you can find medicinal Chinese teas, herbal drinks, and flower teas in this century-old shop. Try the popular 24 herbs tea, a bitter drink that is said to be a cure-all concoction, best for skin problems, flus, and everything in-between.
Good Spring Company (春回堂藥行), 8 Cochrane Street, Central | (+852) 2544 3518
Founded by Chinese medicine practitioner Cinci Leung, CheckCheckCin instantly went viral within Hong Kong’s food scene when they first opened, thanks to their adorable cup designs and Instagram-friendly stores. CheckCheckCin’s philosophy is simple: to remove the stigma surrounding traditional Chinese drinks and rebrand them as an everyday commodity to the general public. Drinks here are not the orthodox, black herbal teas we are familiar with, but rice water-based creations, acting as gentle exfoliation so that you can better absorb nutrients.
Bak Bou Tong (百寶堂) is a herbal tea chain that has over 10 different herbal teas and nourishing fruit drinks on offer. From anti-flu soup to papaya with fresh milk and freshly blended coconut drinks, the varied options give you an opportunity to order a sweet drink to even out the bitterness from the herbal tea. Overwhelmed? Ask the staff for recommendations or get a good old bowl of herbal jelly and some bamboo juice to go!
Specialising in a herbal drink made from the flowering plant rorippa, Sam Bat Mai Kudzu (三不賣野葛菜水) offers its signature rorippa drink ($29) in bowls and in takeaway bottles. Good for detoxing after a sinfully delicious hotpot meal, the drink is slightly sweet and easy to drink.
Sam Bat Mai Kudzu, 226 Johnston Road, Wan Chai