Hong Kong has a lot going for it. It is one of the commercial capitals of the Orient, the architecture is amazing and the food is out of this world. But, the one thing that Hong Kong lacks is a way to get a quick cup of good tea. Every time I come to Hong Kong it amazes me how difficult it is as a traveler to find even bad tea. As weird as that is, there is an explanation for it.
The Chinese never drink tea “on-the-go”
As a Westerner, you would think that everyone drinks beverages they love on the go. After all, Americans love to drink coffee, juice and tea on their morning commutes. But, in Hong Kong, people tend to drink tea at home. The overall impression I get from talking to people is that tea is supposed the be enjoyed, not just chugged for the caffeine.
Tea is also enjoyed socially
When tea is served outside of the home in Hong Kong, it is always during social events. People enjoy tea with meals at restaurants, with a group of friends at a teahouse and at local Milk Tea Establishments with a small bite to eat. At these places there is no “to-go” option for tea. The idea of drinking tea out of a carboard cup while on the subway would seem weird to most Chinese.
Tea is served more like wine is in the U.S.
The best analogy for Western Culture I can think of is the way Americans and Europeans drink wine. Wine is sipped, enjoyed and savored. It is never chugged and is often served to groups of friends at either restaurants or bars. Even if it were legal, it would be weird to order a glass of wine to-go to drink while traveling home.
Here is my point
Tea is supposed to be enjoyed, not just drank because we need the jolt of energy – the Chinese have known this for years. There are plenty of ways to get that jolt (soda, coffee, energy drinks) that it doesn’t make sense to think of tea in the same terms. Tea is a special beverage, that is to be enjoyed for its wonderful flavor, aroma and sense of well being that it gives you. And, yes, it can be enjoyed in the office or the morning when you are in a rush. But just remember to actually appreciate the beverage when you are drinking it and never ever chug tea just for the caffeine!