Sunday, November 24, 2013

Yuen Kut Lam: Kam Wo Char, A Tea Review

I have the house entirely to myself for the week, everyone is off in Madison celebrating the holidays and I am here at home. I decided to stay home because travel is not good for me and it has been a long time since I had some real 'me' freedom. So far I have spent my time playing Minecraft and drinking tea, so nothing too different than usual. Today's tea review is going to be different (kinda) than the usual, today I am reviewing a Traditional Chinese Medicinal (to be abbreviated TCM from here on) tea, oh dear.
The little boxes and big boxes are awesome!
Kam Wo Char comes in one of the coolest looking packages I have ever seen, I admit that and the extremely cheap price at my local beloved Asian market were the reasons I tossed it in my basket. Hailing from Hong Kong, it is one of those 'staples' that a lot of houses have, it is like the TCM version of theraflu, although the box just says 'to soothe dry throat membranes and as a mouth refresher.' Also it says in very clear letters NO POISON, I found that hilarious because if you have ever had TCM teas you can safely say they taste like poison. There are a humongous amount of herbs in this tea, I have heard of quite a few of them, but there are some that I have never heard of and do not translate into Western herbalism.
That is a fantastic pile of mulch

The aroma is very much so that of an herb shop, there is a little bit of everything. The aromas that stand out the most are straw, sweet Annie, mint, and pickles. Yes, this tea smells vaguely of pickles...and I am completely ok with that. Compared to other TCM this tea smells like heaven, at least compared to the ones I drink regularly. The aroma clears the sinuses and is refreshing and a little nostalgic.
shiny film

The instructions for this tea say to steep for fifteen minutes, that is pretty impressively long! The aroma of the steeping leaves is a balance of the different herbaceous aromas, no ones herb stands out and there is an underlying sweetness that was not there previously. The liquid sans the pile of leaves (that now resemble the remnants of leaves in a gutter after a storm) has a much richer aroma with notes of mint and earthiness. I also detect a hint of root herbs. I noticed there was a slight oily film on the surface of the tea, it was shimmery and pretty, but I am easily entertained.
I am scared...

And now it is time to taste. The liquid is so dark that it seems almost black, well no more stalling. If you can imagine me sipping the tea and then immediately convulse and start making strange noises, then you are entirely correct. The initial taste is incredibly bitter, the bitterness of medicinal herbs and roots. After the initial kick of bitterness the taste becomes very smooth and just herbal. The more I drink the more I start noticing other flavors; mint, dill, straw, it seems to evolves with each sip. I start noticing herbs that I cannot even begin to describe their taste because I have nothing to compare it to, the evolution of this tea makes it very fascinating. If you can get past the initial kick in the face bitterness it is a great medicinal tea, and it certainly helped my sniffles and sore throat, not to mention my headache! This tea is certainly going to be a cold season staple.

15 comments:

  1. I would have probably downed it in one or two big gulps. Hehe

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    1. I am so sending you some of this to try, I want to see if you can down it in one gulp now :P

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  2. I just picked some up and it is quite yummy (I like bitter), but it cost me over $5 which is by no means cheap for a box that amounts to only 10 servings. Where is this "local Asian market" you acquired yours from?...Of course I ask this with little hope that you're near my city or even my province.

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    1. That is pretty pricey! I get it from the 888 International Market (http://888intlmarket.com/)in Kansas City. It is a great source for some great tea finds, even if I don't like them it is always an adventure! I hope you are able to find a cheaper source since you enjoy it!

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  3. I drink it a lot in new Zealand but costs me 10 $

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  4. We have been using this tea for flu symptoms for more than 30 years and it works every time. One sachet can be used twice and we drink it 3-4 times a day for best results. We have even given this to our children and they recover without any antibiotics. Well recommended. Cost is not an issue for us so long as it is effective without side effects..

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  5. Does anyone know if this tea contains caffeine?

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    1. To the best of my knowledge it does not, but this website http://www.cheungstrading.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=580 has a list of all the ingredients if you want to double check

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    2. Thanks Amanda - great to have the list of ingredients. None of them jump out as containing caffeine, but I'm not sure what a lot of them are!

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    3. I still have no idea what some of them are since a bunch are only available in Chinese medicine and that is surprisingly hard to research at times!

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    4. Yeah - I put some of the ingredients into google and even google wasn't much use! I had a cup of the tea this morning and it gave me the jittery feeling that caffeine does (which is why I don't have caffeine. also disrupts my sleep). Would love to be able to have this tea though, due to its benefits.

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    5. That is totally fair, it could always be that one or more of them have a stimulant effect but don't have caffeine. I am not sure how it affects sleep though.

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    6. I have the same question about caffeine. I really love this tea and as a caffeine-intolerant I was delighted to finally find o tea that didn't contain caffeine, but it does quite prevent me to faal asleep.... which ingredient would that be?

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  6. The best!! Taking for 25 years!! We love it!!

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