A neighborhood tea house held a promotion for its “old-fashioned tea” recently.  The server was told to aggressively advertise this new menu item, but he was not properly informed of the differences between the regular and the old-fashioned flavors.  After he shrugged off his ignorance, I proceeded to order the tea which tasted just like the establishment’s own signature black tea.

 Consumers may associate old-fashionedness with nostalgia and vintage, sometimes with manual labor and a sense of primitiveness that is desired, appreciated.  I remember seeing, on the island of Taiwan, various eateries’ store signs that contained the three Chinese characters ”古早味,” which should be pronounced in Taiwanese, not Mandarin, as “Go Za Bi.”  I always wondered if those food items were entirely hand-made with most natural ingredients from scratch, and if savoring them summoned thoughts of bygones, then bewilderment.

The old-fashioned Taiwanese black teas should be prepared with sugar as unrefined as possible.  Many recipes suggest brewing the tea with roasted cassia.  For whatever reason, I associate extreme bitterness with old-fashioned herbal teas, but could not recall having ever sipped a cuppa.