[Penang, Malaysia] Cantonese lunch at Four Seasons Tea House, Terengganu Road

Four Seasons Tea House grew out of a small traditional tea house into the full-fledged Cantonese eatery it is today over the past 2 decades. Back in 1998, customers go there to imbibe a variety of Chinese tea.

Loosely, there are 6 major types of Chinese tea:

  1. Green tea - the oldest type of tea drunk in China, made from the young shoots plucked from the tea plants. Its origins go back nearly 4,500 years, to the time of the mythical Emperor Shen Nong in 2437 BC. The most famous green tea in China is Hangzhou’s Longjing or Dragon Well tea.

  2. Yellow tea - produced by allowing damp tea leaves to dry slowly. The most famous yellow tea is the Junshan Yinzhen from Hunan Province, and was supposedly the favorite tea of Hunan’s most (in)famous son, Mao Zedong.

  3. White tea - this is uncured, unfermented green tea leaves, and originates from Fujian Province. It has a much lighter and more subtle flavor and scent compared to other types of tea. A famous white tea is the Bai Mudan or “white peony” from Fujian, so-named because of its peony-like floral aroma when brewed.
    Another popular white tea is the Baihao Yinzhen or “white hair silver needle” tea, also one of Fujian’s most famous tea exports.

  4. Oolong tea - the strong-flavored, bitter “black dragon” tea is made from unfermented, sun-dried then rolled tea leaves. [Oolong] tea is perhaps the most popular tea in Southern China (Fujian, Guangdong), Taiwan and the Chinese diaspora in South-east Asia (Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia).
    Da Hong Bao is perhaps the most expensive tea in the world, costing up to US$35,000 per ounce.

  5. Black tea - this is a highly-oxidized, smoke-dried tea with a powerful aroma and taste. Famous unblended black tea included lapsang souchong from China and Darjeeling from India. Despite its name, the brew has a dark-red hue, and not black.
    Black tea is often blended with other ingredients to achieve the final product, e.g. Earl Grey tea which is black tea with oil of Bergamot; English Breakfast tea which is composed of black tea leaves from Assam, Sri Lanka and Kenya; and the Indian Masala Chai where black tea leaves are boiled in milk and water, with spices thrown in.

  6. Dark tea - a post-fermented tea which originated in Anhua, Hunan Province, where it was first recorded in 1524. The tea is smoke-dried, and has a dark appearance in dry form. The brew has a light, golden hue and has a taste which has been described as “calming”.

But in the case of Four Seasons Tea House, it seems that the owner, Lum Wee Chai, had made a decision to transform his tea drinking establishment into a full-fledged Cantonese restaurant instead, with the preparation and serving of tea relegated to become a secondary feature.

It was my first time at the restaurant last Friday, but for my Penang friends, this restaurant has become a firm favorite of theirs though the last 20-plus years. Our lunch consisted of:

  1. Lor Bak - traditional Penang-Nyonya meat roll wrapped in yuba (beancurd skin), served with Worcestershire sauce dip.

  2. Choon Phneah - Penang-Nyonya vegetable-minced pork in rice paper roll, served with a chili sauce dip.

  3. Yam Ring with Vegetables - mashed yam ring-shaped “bowl” filled with stir-fried cauliflower, carrots, baby-corn and wood-ear fungus.

  4. Golden Needle Mushrooms with Tofu

  5. San-pei Ji (3-cups Chicken) - braised chicken in soy sauce, sesame oil and Shaoxing wine.

  6. Asam Laksa-sauced Fish - steamed golden snapper with a sour-spicy minced fish gravy, topped with finely-chopped cucumber and raw onions.

  7. Claypot Chicken with Salted Fish - braised chicken with salted fish , onions, scallions and dried chilis.

  8. Okra with Sambal Belacan & Shrimps - stir-fried okra with sambal belacan and shrimps.

  9. Peanut-stuffed Tong Yuan in Black Sesame Soup - dessert course: crushed peanut-filled rice flour balls, in a sweet black sesame soup.

Generally, I found all the dishes there to be rather too bland for my personal liking, but all my friends seemed to enjoy the dishes. Not sure if their palates have gotten used to the type of cooking this restaurant offered, conditioned through the decades.

Address
Four Seasons Tea House
80-U, Jalan Trengganu, Taman Kampar
10460 George Town, Penang
Tel: +604-281 8193
Opening hours: 12 noon to 10pm, Tue to Sun. Closed on Mondays.

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I like the okra dish very much.

Did you drink any tea?

In Taiwan, the tea is more of a priority at tea houses. I love most types of tea, including the very hard to obtain, even in Taiwan, Oriental Beauty.

We had their Oolong tea. The Chinese always liked to believe that the Oolong aids in digestion and also gets rid of the oils/fats consumed during a meal. :joy:

It is that way in Penang, too - but Four Seasons Tea House seems to be an exception - it’s digressed from its original concept.
I noticed that almost half of the floor space in there were taken up by canisters filled with various tea leaves - perhaps they supply tea to various retail or F&B outlets around town.

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