Tag Archives: Yancha

Old Tea

1950s Yancha

Perhaps the epitome of one’s tea journey is to have the experience to enjoy a good genuine old or antique tea. To savour a good and optimally brewed old tea is alluring. Not only one has the chance to experience its exotic and complex taste and flavours generated from years of aging, it is also an overwhelming experience to comprehend the history of the tea.

What is the notion of drinking old tea? There are too many variables out there but we can generally summarise them into four categories, in order of hierarchy, from the lowest to highest:

1.  Ignorantly drinking a fake old tea which was thought or told to be genuine;

2.  Drinking a genuine but badly stored old tea;

3.  Drinking a genuine and well stored old tea;

4.  Enjoying a genuine well stored old tea with the optimal and quintessential brewing method.

The first two categories of finding and drinking fake old or badly stored old tea, from what I overheard from some tea connoisseurs, is plausible delusional. There are so many incredible stories and bamboozle to entice one into these directions. The risk is not only in monetary loss but there are high chances that it is likely to be a health hazard as well.

The third category of drinking a genuine well stored old tea is what most proficient tea connoisseurs will go into. Due to their long experience and exposure in tea, their chances of finding good and well stored tea are better. By constant tasting over the years, they are most likely to narrow down their preference for this type of tea.

But a genuine well stored old tea is still so rare with limited quantity that most of them hardly have the chance to experiment with the brewing. Some of them might be lucky enough to find proper guidance from the real teamaster and with bold enough courage to buy those teas in larger quantities to learn and experiment. Then they move to the forth category.

At the forth category, with constant experiment and relentless pursuit in brewing these old well stored tea, they narrow down the margin to get it closer of brewing it right. At this stage, it is crucial to spend a lot of laborious time exploring traditional, conventional and unconventional ways of brewing tea to reinforce understanding of the tea. Then, the likelihood of brewing the tea optimally will progress further as time goes by. After mastering the brewing techniques, the old tea becomes really very enjoyable.


1950s Yancha with original tea and packaging + a cashew nut.

Imagine being able to coax decades old tea of its wisdom, vigour, vitality and dynamism and able to control and articulate all these attributes in the brew in any profile you desire …absolutely joyous.


To be at category 4 of enjoying a genuine well stored old tea with the optimal and quintessential brewing method is really a very hard and long journey. It is usually taken with very small steps and also determined by the blessing of fate. To chance upon a real old well stored tea and learn how to brew it optimally is definitely a rare fate and the epitome in any tea connoisseur’s tea journey.

Assortment of well stored and aged old teas from 1970s to early 2000

However, in today’s context, the chance of finding a genuine well stored old tea with the proper guidance to brew the tea is extremely rare. For most tea connoisseurs, it would be more realistic to find the best new tea, which is suitable for aging, learn how to brew it and follow the journey as it ages. Learn about its’ character and grow along with it in its aging process. It is like following the journey of a growing child. This direction will be more achievable and as joyous too.

Ultimately, that said, everything is still a journey. There is no right or wrong, just our personal experience to reinforce our own understanding.

But the long journey, taken in the right context, is definitely… extremely joyful.





EDC is a common term and  abbreviation for Everyday Carry. There are many instruments or tools designed for EDC e.g. multitools, torchlight, money clips or self defense tools etc.

For tea, I always have a tea canister for EDC. I often refer to it as EDCT (Everyday Carry Tea).  They are small tea caddies or canisters which I carry in my daily tote bag for tea survival. You never know when you need to brew a cup of tea.

Sometimes when I am in the company of friends, over some nice food in a restaurant which provides brewing facilities, it is just cool just to pop out the EDCT.

Or, in middle of nowhere when there is hot water available, just pull a few leaves out from EDCT and plopped it in to have a quick tea fix.

EDCT caddy is really cool and they can be in many forms e.g. a recycled candy tin, a small borosilicate bottle or any canister that is easy to carry around.

I have a few EDCT which I carry around depending on the situations. The one that I usually carry around the most is a recycled candy tin which I filled with aged Sheng Puer. The tea is easy to brew to impress anyone familiar with tea at all level of expertise.

Candy Tin EDCT with 2002 Sheng Puer
Candy Tin EDCT with 2002 Sheng Puer

The other EDCT which I carry is the Yancha in a small pewter tea caddy.  This one comes handy when I patronize the restaurant serving local ribs soup (Bak Kut Teh)  where Chazhou style brewing facilities is available.

Small pewter caddy with Tie Loh Han Yancha
Small pewter caddy with Tie Loh Han Yancha

Sometimes when I visit a novice tea drinker, I like to brew a lighter tea. I would bring along a small Japanese tea caddy and fill it with wild white tea. The caddy itself is a nice art and conversation piece. The tea has subtle ethereal fragrance and milky sweetness which is appealing to a tea novice to be enticed to the world of tea.

Japanese tea caddy with wild white Fuding tea.
Japanese tea caddy with wild white Fuding tea.

On the wild side, when I go jungle trekking or bush bashing, the titanium EDCT is always in the survival pack. Most of the time, survival tools are kept in survival capsule but for me, it is of course, tea.

In the worst case scenario, the titanium survival capsule is used as a teapot too. I would just pour hot water into the titanium capsule and brew the tea from there! It is tea survival to the extreme.

In this capsule, I often filled it up with the flower fragrance and smokey Lapsang Souchong tea. It is a nice smokey tea which come in handy in the wilderness, you never know when you need to smoke some fish or game meat for jungle survival. I carry this Titanium EDCT when I go for jungle trekking in the wilderness.

Titanium EDCT with Lapsang Souchong
Titanium EDCT with Lapsang Souchong tea

EDCT (Everyday Carry Tea) is a crucial tea survival tool.

Have  you got one yet?

Eat Tea

Traditional teochew teapot, cups and saucer
Traditional teochew teapot, cups and saucer

To the Teochew people, tea is treated like the exilir of life.

Traditionally, most Teochew cannot do without tea even for a day. They drink (“Lim”  in Teochew dialect) tea throughout the day and many of them often substitute drinking water with drinking tea.

Teochew or Chaozhou style of brewing tea is one of the most sophisticated way of brewing tea. It looks awfully simple but the understanding and techniques really take a lifetime  to learn. I set up a brewing station at home specifically just to train myself to brew tea in Chaozhou style but after many many years, I think I am still a novice apprentice.

While most of the tea connoisseurs refer to tea consumption as drinking (“Lim”) tea, the Teochew  would normally say eat (“Chiak” in Teochew dialect) tea instead. This term of eating tea suggest a higher level of tea appreciation. So when we meet a Teochew, or a tea friend whom we usually enjoy tea at a higher level with, we  should say eat tea rather than drink tea i.e. “Chiak Teh” rather than “Lim Teh”

So…“Lai Chiak Teh” ~~ “Come, Let’s Eat Tea”