02 March 2009

What's in a Cup - Part 2 杯中乾坤-下卷



My earliest memory of coffee was my father’s large ceramic cup with Chinese inscriptions, an unlikely choice for a coffee mug. Before he retired a decade ago, my Dad was a freelance illustrator for a handful of local newspapers in Hong Kong. For four decades, he worked his paintbrushes and black ink every day at home in his snug corner, stealing noisy slurps from his signature coffee cup buried somewhere on his perennially cluttered desk. Every day I would hear the familiar noise of the rattling teaspoon as he stirred granulated instant coffee with powdered creamer and condensed milk. This explained why growing up we always had a sticky jar of yellowish curd in the fridge.

It wasn’t until many years later that I found out instant coffee was something coffee drinkers scoff at because the powder is made from the lowest quality beans. Indeed, instant coffee has lost much of its popularity in Hong Kong since my early childhood. These days discerning consumers demand authenticity and opt for a fresh brew. Unwilling to sacrifice precious countertop space in their kitchen for a bulky coffee machine, drinkers have all but given up preparing their own coffee at home. It also seems far more debonair to walk into a Starbucks and walk out with a decaf double venti non-fat latte macchiato. All of that has all but sealed the fate of the decidedly unsophisticated instant coffee.


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Read the rest of this article in HONG KONG State of Mind, published by Blacksmith Books, available at major bookstores in in Hong Kong, on Amazon and at Blacksmith Books.




11 comments:

  1. I liked your article - was very good! I totally agree with the condensed milk, my mom uses condensed milk every morning for her coffee! only years later she realized its not very healthy and making her gain weight! Interesting insight on the HK Cha Chaan Teng phenomena. Keep the great blog entries coming!!!

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  2. I like Tsui Wah, one of my favorite Cha chaan Teng in Hong Kong. Especially the one in Central. Yum~

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  3. loved you article especially talking about cha chaan teng, the most convenient place for cheap and good food (some) which is tipcially found in hong kong. One thing to point out that hope your audience would not pick the condensed milk shown in your article to goes with their "milk tea". Personally studied "milk tea" and its recipies for over 10 years and I can guaranteed you that isn't the right choice of c-milk.

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  4. But I must say condensed milk is perfect with a cup of steaming hot Horlick's!

    Jason

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  5. Love ur articles! Suppose how does a lactose intolerant get himself fed nowadays when everywhere I go the menu is dominated by milky dishes? Cream of Chicken, Chicken rice with white sauce, Cream of Mushroom, Cream of Ham. Everything is cream based and there is this sense that HKers are as obsessed with Milk as the Californians are at chesses. Glad to have gotten thru another stormy week without kidney stone.

    Cheers! Keep Bloggin!

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  6. Interesting topic and enjoy reading most of yr articles in yr blog. Keep on, J...
    I am a coffee and milk tea lover. I like condensed milk in tea very much. Usually I make that when I am home or in office. I just know how to order that about a week ago. Before I thought "茶走" means tea to go. My friend told me that 茶走 mean tea with condensed milk. From that time on, I would order 茶走 everytime I go to Cha Chaan Teng.

    For coffee, I couldn't find any coffee good in Cha Chaan Teng. Maybe I don't like the HK style coffee.

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  7. Never heard of "茶走" before. Perhaps I will try it next time...

    Jason

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  8. Hey.. tell u one more term. If you want yr tea to be less sweeten with condensed milk, you ask for "茶走扣底".

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  9. Cha Chaan Teng is such a definitive HK culture! Personally I go there for milk tea and not coffee. Though their iced coffee is amazing.

    Margaret

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  10. i love the cold yin-yang from cha chaan tangs; also, their sai dor si (french toast).

    Wendy

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  11. Dear Jason,

    Some of the Cha Chaan Teng loves to build a wall by the cans of milk - Black Cow (or Black & White Cow), it cannot be find in supermarket, don't know why?
    But I think Carnaton is good enough, the taste of Black & White Cow is a bit too strong for me.
    >.< 'U'

    Beside Cha Chaan Teng, another sucessful examples would be the 許留山 n 滿記!>u<

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