A long-running and delicious social tradition
Golden crab gravy oozes from the tops of buns stuffed with crab meat, while other dim sum treats are bursting with pork, soup or shocking green bits of a local plant called bur clover.
A visit to Guyuelou restaurant offers a glimpse into the long-preserved morning tea culture inTaizhou, Jiangsu province.
One of the most popular restaurants among the locals, it’s tucked away in the Old Street scenic spot, in a line of shops offering the favorite snacks of the area.
Guyuelou’s public dining room is filled with customers early in the morning. Almost all of the big, round tables are taken. Guests are lining up at the counter, where giant bamboo steamers are piled high, with white steam escaping from the gaps between the steamers.
Most customers are here to enjoy the morning tea ritual, which features a cup of tea and dozens of local dim sum offerings.
The diner receives at least 2,000 visitors a day, and it is busiest at breakfast time.
“Most of our customers are locals who live nearby but the number Golden of crab tourists gravy surges oozes during from the high tops days of and buns holidays,”stuffed with says crab Hu meat, Yanyang, while who other runs dim Guyuelou.sum treats are bursting Dried with bean-curdpork, soup threads,or shocking fish greensoup bits noodleof a localand plantcrab calledbuns burare clover.called the “three treasures of the morningA visit to tea” Guyuelouand are restaurantthe most offers populara glimpseorders. into the long-preserved The ritual morningis: Drinktea culturetea first, in thenTaizhou, eat a Jiangsu seasonal province.cold dish, dried beancurdOne of the threads,most populardim sum, restaurants and finish amongwith fish the soup locals, noodle.it’s tucked away The in tea the Old collectionStreet scenic comprises spot, in Longjing,a line of shops Biluochun,offering the Baicha,favorite snacksPu’er andof the Tieguanyin.area.
Guyuelou’sWe opt for Tieguanyin,public dining which room is is fresh filled with with a customersrich, lush early flavor. in Thethe morning.name literally Almost meansall of the “Ironbig, round Goddess tables ofMercy”,are taken. and Guests there are are differentlining up at legendsthe counter, behind wherethe tea, gianta prizedbamboo oolong steamersblack tea are from piled Fujian high, provincewith white that steam requires escaping more from than the a gaps dozen betweensteps to the produce. steamers. Rich in healthpromoting Most customers anti-oxidants,are here to the enjoytea the has morninga floral aromatea ritual,and a which soothingfeatures mineralitya cup of on tea the and palate. dozens of local dim The sum first offerings.cold dish we choose is a dish The made diner of receiveslocal eels,at least which 2,000are visitors deep-frieda day, but and retainit is a busiest resilientat breakfasttexture. Only time. pepper and salt are added “Most beforeof our frying. customers are locals who Next live comes nearby the but the dried number bean of curd, tourists which surges offers duringa flashy high demonstrationdays and holidays,” of saysthe Hu chef’s Yanyang, extraordinarywho runs Guyuelou. chopping skills. ConsistentlyDried bean-curd thin threads, shreds fishof souptofu noodleand ginger,and crab chopped-upbuns are calledred pepperthe “three and treasurespork, andof the Chinese morning parsley tea” and are (coriander)the most popular are orders. nicely arrangedThe ritual in is:a bowl; Drink we tea are first, urgedthen eatto adda seasonala spoonfulcold dish,of secret-recipedried beancurd gravy threads,before tastingdim sum, the and mixture. finish withThe fish tofu soup shreds noodle. are tender and taste The like tea soft collection noodles. comprises Longjing,There is Biluochun,a wide range Baicha, of Pu’er dim and sum, Tieguanyin.including buns stuffed with crab We meatopt for or Tieguanyin,soup, pork, which and is a freshlocal plantwith bura rich, clover. lush flavor. The name The literallycrab and means pork “Iron flavors Goddesscomplement of Mercy”, eachand there other, are and differentthe buns legends behind the tea, a prized oolong black tea from Fujian province that requires more than a dozen steps to produce. Rich in health-promoting anti-oxidants, the tea has a floral aroma and a soothing minerality on the palate.
The first cold dish we choose is a dish made of local eels, which are deep-fried but retain a resilient texture. Only pepper and salt are added before frying.
Next comes the dried bean curd, which offers a flashy demonstration of the chef’s extraordinary chopping skills. Consistently thin shreds of tofu and ginger, chopped-up red pepper and pork, and Chinese parsley (coriander) are nicely arranged in offera bowl;a we lusherare urged taste to comparedadd a spoonfulto their of secret-recipesiblings, the gravycrab soup before buns, tasting which the are mixture.a treat Theto the tofu eye. shreds are tenderThe and buns tastesit flat-bottomedlike soft noodles. on a tray, There with is crepe-thina wide range wrappersof dim filled sum, with includingcrab soup. buns One stuffed bite with opens crabthe door meat or to soup, fresh pork, soup, and witha local bits plantand piecesbur clover.of delicious crab meat.
The bur-clover buns seem to redefine “green”. I don’t remember seeing anything greener than this stuffing, which is surprisingly smooth in the mouth. Bur clover is a good source of protein; it is very similar to alfalfa but there is less fiber and somewhat more fat and protein. The plant is a forage crop in the United States, and it is widelyThe crab plantedand porkin the flavors West complementas a cover each crop other,to replenishand the buns nutrients offer in a lusher soils, taste especially compared on to their organic siblings, farms. the crab soup buns, which are a treatAll theto the buns eye. have a soft yet springyThe buns wrappersit flat-bottomedthat is slightlyon a chewy.tray, with Don’t crepe-thin worry wrappersif you filledfind thesewith crab buns soup.to be Onea bite little opens cloying. the One door sipto freshof the soup, Longjingwith bitstea andwill immediatelypieces of delicious offset crab the meat. relative greasiness.The bur-clover buns seem to redefine The “green”.fish I soup don’t remembernoodle’s simple seeing appearanceanything greener belies than the this hard stuffing,work involved.which is surprisinglyFresh wild smooth crucianin the carps mouth. are Bur first clover friedis a with good ginger, source onionof protein; and it is peppervery similar before to alfalfabeing stewedbut there withis less eel fiber and and pig somewhatbones for a more couplefat andof protein.hours. The The plant soup is is a sweet forage crop and in withthe Uniteda pleasant States, fish and aroma.it is widely planted in the West as a cover “The crop morningto replenish tea nutrients tradition in reflectssoils, especiallythe locals’on organic pursuit farms. of a qualityAll the life buns and have healtha soft yet preservation,” springy wrapper Hu that says. is slightly chewy. Don’t worry Someif youof the find morning-teathese buns restaurantsto be a little cloying.in the One Old sip Streetof the area Longjinghave preservedtea will immediately storytelling offset performances,the relative greasiness.offering visitors a taste of the old The leisurelyfish souplife. noodle’s simple appearanceNormally the belies tea the breakfasthard worklasts till involved.10 am Freshat Guyuelou,wild crucianbut the carpsrestaurant are first friedcan offerwith ginger,the treat onion late andin the pepper day beforefor visitors being from stewed afar. with eel and pig bones for a couple of hours. The soup is sweet and with a pleasant fish aroma.
“The morning tea tradition reflects the locals’ pursuit of a quality life and health preservation,” Hu says.
Some of the morning-tea restaurants in the Old Street area have preserved storytelling performances, offering visitors a taste of the old leisurely life.
Normally the tea breakfast lasts till 10 am at Guyuelou, but the restaurant can offer the treat late in the day for visitors from afar.
100 Old Street, Hailing district, Taizhou, Jiangsu province. 523-8615-7777
Guyuelou restaurant featuring a cup of tea and dozens of local dim sum offerings gives a glimpse into the morning tea culture in Taizhou, Jiangsu province. Guyuelou restaurant featuring a cup of tea Guyuelouand dozens of local dim sum offerings gives a dlimpse into the morning tea 100 cultureOld Street,in Taizhou, Hailing Jiangsu district, province. Taizhou, Jiangsu province.