Yan Toh Heen

Hong Kong Tatler Best Restaurants (Hong Kong / Macau) - - Best of awards -

Even in Hong Kong, it seems that a beau­ti­fully brewed pot of tea—be it a sweet and del­i­cate longjing or a bracing, tan­nin-rich pu-erh—is woe­fully un­der­rated, so of­ten so that it's or­dered with­out a sec­ond thought in a Chi­nese restau­rant, rather than be­ing seen as a com­plex drink that can en­hance and com­ple­ment food just as well as a fine Bur­gundy or Ch­ablis. But that's chang­ing in hearts and minds—and our new­est award recog­nises those who have paid their dues in pro­mot­ing the art of tea cul­ture.

Tea som­me­lier Kelvin Ng joined the ho­tel last year and has since worked tire­lessly to pro­mote ex­quis­ite teas that stand up to chef Lau Yiu-fai's Can­tonese cui­sine, cul­mi­nat­ing in a lengthy menu that gives pre­mium Chi­nese teas their time in the spot­light. Ng brings to­gether award-win­ning teas from around the re­gion, not­ing each for their in­di­vid­ual char­ac­ter­is­tics and health ben­e­fits, and plays an ac­tive role in guid­ing guests to­wards the brews that will best match their cho­sen dishes.

A supremely el­e­gant Phoenix Os­man­thus (a semi-fer­mented oo­long), for ex­am­ple, is rec­om­mended for its thirst-quench­ing prop­er­ties thanks to its sweet, brisk flavour pro­file. We're told that the flo­ral, peach-like fra­grance of the tea doesn't come di­rectly from the ad­di­tion of os­man­thus flow­ers, as is done in more in­fe­rior ver­sions; rather, it's a nat­u­ral char­ac­ter­is­tic of the tea leaves grown at the apex of Phoenix Moun­tain in Guang­dong prov­ince. On the other hand, Ng com­pares the ex­pres­sive Man­darin Orchid oo­long to a fra­grant chardon­nay— ex­cel­lent with seafood or cold dishes— and the heartier pu-erh is ex­plained with ref­er­ences to full-bod­ied reds.

There's no doubt that any­one who steeps them­selves in Ng's deep knowl­edge of tea will emerge en­light­ened—and, per­haps even more sat­is­fy­ingly, with­out a han­gover the next day.

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