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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Phnom Penh picks: the capital’s best brews, from fresh oolong to chai

Phnom Penh picks: the capital’s best brews, from fresh oolong to chai

With the many purported health benefits of tea – lower risk of heart disease and stroke, weight loss, increased concentration – there’s never been a better time to enjoy a cuppa.

The staff at China Brand Tea prepare a traditional Chinese tea ceremony.
The staff at China Brand Tea prepare a traditional Chinese tea ceremony. Poppy McPherson

Chinese tea at China Brand Tea
The Chinese tea shop on the corner of Monivong and Mao Tse Tung Boulevards offers an unusual way to spend an idle hour. Shelves are stacked with many different types of tea – from $6 ginseng and jasmine to $150-and-up quality Taiwanese blends. Ask to sample some and the staff will serve up a traditional tea ceremony. Ceramic cups are laid on a tea tray, warmed and sterilised with hot water. Metal tongs are used to pour out the excess. Then the tea is brewed at the right temperature for the type, before being poured and thrown out until stewed perfectly. There’s no charge for the samples but, if you do want to take some home, fresh, undried oolong tea has an earthy kick while black tea is said to be good for the stomach.
China Brand Tea, #735 Monivong Blvd (near Mao Tse-tung Boulevard). Open daily 6:30am – 9pm. 012 699 399

Myanmar tea is made with condensed milk.
Myanmar tea is made with condensed milk. Poppy McPherson

Myanmar tea at IrawaddI Restaurant
Myanmar teashops – crowded meeting places with Indian snacks and swirling vats of golden brew – are a must for any visitor to the country. Closer to home, Boeung Keng Kang’s Irawaddi serves up a mean cup of black tea with condensed milk and sugar. Strong, creamy and $1, it’s a sweet footnote to a meal at the restaurant, beloved for tasty and good value curries and salads.
Irawaddi Gallery and Restaurant, #24 Street 334. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Closed Mondays.

Tea with a hint of cinnamon at Beirut.
Tea with a hint of cinnamon at Beirut. Bennett Murray

Cinnamon tea at Beirut
Lebanese hookah-smoking may have been squashed in Cambodia thanks to a ban earlier this year, but its rich tea and coffee culture can still be enjoyed. For a sweet and spicy tea break over shwarma, Beirut Resto Cafe offers its Beirut Red Tea, black tea with cinnamon sticks, for $2 a pot. For the full effect, add lots of sugar like the Lebanese do.
Beirut Resto Cafe, #117 Sisowath Quay. Open 11am-11pm

Hong Kong-style tea is similar to British.
Hong Kong-style tea is similar to British. Bennett Murray

Hong Kong-style milk tea at Noodle Garden
With its Chinese ethnicity and British colonial legacy, the Pearl of the Orient could not be in a better position to produce some of the world’s greatest tea. The quintessential type, aptly known as Hong Kong-style tea around the world, is black tea mixed with sweet condensed milk which can be served either hot or cold. Noodle Garden on Riverside whips up a great tea for $2.20 that goes down splendidly with the dim-sum.
Noodle Garden, #121Eo Sisowath Quay. Open 7am-midnight

Moroccan Mint tea at Tea House Hotel.
Moroccan Mint tea at Tea House Hotel. EMILY WIGHT

Moroccan Mint tea at Tea House Hotel
Don’t let the name put you off – Tea House Hotel welcomes non-guests to enjoy its huge variety of teas from around the world. For $3, you will be served a huge terracotta pot with a bamboo handle, along with a small porcelain cup from which to drink. The Moroccan Mint is deliciously refreshing and soothing, and the atmosphere of the “tea lounge”, with its low-lying cushions and human-size plants, will almost transport you. Tea House Hotel also offers teas from China, India, Sri Lanka, and South Africa in flavours that range from chocolate to jasmine to green tea to Earl Grey to Royal Orchid.
TeaHouse Hotel, #32 Street 242. Tea Lounge open 7am - 10pm

Indian chai tea from The Vegetarian.
Indian chai tea from The Vegetarian. EMILY WIGHT

Indian spiced tea at the Vegetarian
The Vegetarian restaurant, with its veggie soups, curries and noodle dishes, hides a surprising secret: excellent Indian chai tea, at $1.50. Rather than in the small metal cup which is traditional in Indian restaurants or on the streets of the vast subcontinent, the tea is served in a decent-sized mug. It’s piping hot, milky, sweet and pretty heavy on the cardamom. If you’re averse to spice, watch out: the rawness leaves a buzzing in the mouth.
The Vegetarian, #158, Street 19. Open 10:30am - 8:30pm

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