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Herbal Tea in Hong Kong and Macau

Herbal Tea in Hong Kong and Macau

China National Intangible Cultural Heritage: Herbal Tea

Herbal tea is a very popular daily beverage in many parts of China, especially the Southern regions of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau, which are located in the subtropical climate zone and are well known for being particularly hot and humid during many parts of the year.  People in these regions make various kinds of herbal tea in accordance with the local climate, soil and water conditions, and the health preserving theories of traditional Chinese medicine. They boil traditional Chinese medicinal ingredients with different kinds of herbs and consume it to relieve  heat and humidity within the body, thus herbal tea is referred to as “cooling tea” in the Chinese language.

Chinese herbal tea has been developed and experimented with for over 2000 years, and it is said to be able to solve problems with excess heat and toxins in the human body, quench thirst and  promote the secretion of vital bodily fluids.  There are currently no health limits on the amount of daily consumption, and it does not require a doctor's prescription in order to purchase it.  In 2006, herbal tea was listed as an icon of cultural heritage by the Chinese government.


In 306 CE, Ge Hongnan, a Taoist medicinal expert came to Lingnan, which was an area that once covered the modern Chinese provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi, Hunan, Jiangxi and Hainan, as well as parts of northern Vietnam. Malaria was highly prevalent at that time, and so he studied and made extensive research on the various herbal medicines available there, in order to find out how best to fight its spread amongst the local population. The recipes of different kinds of herbal teas were first formulated based on the books written by Ge Hongnan and subsequently improved upon by doctors in southern China, having gained rich experience over the years during long processes of clinical trials and research. For thousands of years, herbal tea shops and stalls have been widespread throughout Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau, and they have become a very important part of the local culture.

Herbal Tea in Hong Kong and Macau

Modern Development

The formulas and preparation skills of herbal teas have always been inherited from generation to generation, sometimes in secret. During the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), herbal tea culture underwent severe damage in Mainland China: shops were forced to close, and in many places, there are now very few relics left of herbal tea making artifacts, historical photographs and materials.  However, in Hong Kong and Macau it always has been and continues to be immensely popular amongst locals and tourists alike.

At present, the annual production of herbal teas in China has reached 200 million tons. They are  exported to around 30 countries worldwide, including Canada, America, Britain and France, and they continue to gain more and more attention and acceptance by consumers outside of China.

Famous Brands

16 brands, with 54 different formulas, have gained widespread acceptance and popularity  throughout China and the rest of the world. These are:

  • Wanglaoji (Wong Lo Kat)
  • Shangqingyin (上清饮),
  • Jianshengtang (健生堂),
  • Denglao (邓老),
  • Baiyunshan (白云山),
  • Huangzhenlong (黄振龙),
  • Xuqixiu (徐其修),
  • Chunhetang (春和堂),
  • Jinhulu (金葫芦),
  • Xingqun (星群),
  • Runxintang (润心堂),
  • Shaxi (沙溪),
  • Lishi (李氏),
  • Qingxintang (清心堂),
  • Xinglinchun (杏林春)