Oil Tea

By Matt W., Teach in China Participant

Okay, last night, on my way back to school I remembered that I completely forgot to talk about one of the most notable things we did in Fengyang.  Oil tea.  For the three nights we were there, Isabella, our Cultural Embrace local coordinator, had us go out to three different villagers homes to drink oil tea with them.  We did this as a cultural exchange kind of experience and it was quite enjoyable…. well…. kind of…  At each house the drink of choice is a concauction called “You Cha” (pronounces yo cha, for those not familiar with chinese pinyin).

You cha means “Oil Tea”, and is probably the most bitter thing I have ever consumed.  To make oil tea you get green tea, ginger and garlic, cut them up into bits and sauté them in a wok.  After they have been cooking for a while you hammer the ingredients with a wooden hammer and then place everything in a sieve and run hot water through it.  Out comes a coffee and cream looking liquid which then is served in a bowl with puffed rice on top.

The flavor when it first hits your tongue isn’t that bad, but once it hits the bitter zone in the back your taste buds explode with the most intense bitter taste ever.  I generally like bitter beers, IPA’s and the lot, bit this is close to unbearable.  Needless to say I think its an acquired taste.  So I got to sample three different varieties of oil tea because I went to three different houses and everyone makes it a little differently.

The first house is what I’m basing everything off of and it was quite bitter but the middle of the three.  The second was the most palatable, not too bitter.  The third house was very bitter and pretty rough. Oddly, the third place is the only house where I had more than one bowl.  This could be due to the fact that the third house was a larger family and there were three chinese guys that were quite entertaining and quite hospitable.

By in large, the chinese people know that we don’t like oil tea.  I think they understand that its not an insult to them at all but this stuff is really hard to drink if you have not acquired the taste for it.  In the third house I the three guys picked this up and offered us some Li Qian beer (coming in at a whopping 3.6% alcohol).  So most of us took them up on the offer.  Then shortly later they pulled out Chinese rice wine.  This is another one of those acquired taste things.  The rice wine we had essentially tasted like straight vodka, quite noxious.   Luckily they gave us only little bits at a time so it wasn’t too hard to put down.

So yeah! there is my forgotten post.  And for those who are concerned, today started my official teacher training so that took the whole day, and now we’re going to town to go out to eat because its Jarone, and Wies’ last night in Yangshuo 🙁

Hope you’re having a good morning America!

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