What is Single Man’s Tea?
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Back in the 1950s, herbal teas were dubbed as Single Man’s Tea. At that time, there was an influx of both refugees and economic migrants from the mainland including a large number of unmarried men. When they became sick, there were no family members at home to brew them herbal medicine, so these men would seek out remedies from herbal teashops. There they would drink a bowl of medicated tea, reflecting the heyday of the herbal tea industry. Western doctors were scarce here and often expensive, so people would go to the herbal teashops when they felt unwell. People would drink the tea, and then sweat out the illness in bed at home. Each herbal teashop had its own recipes for medicinal remedies, and often coming with a large herbal medicine cabinet in the shop.
On Shanghai Street, there was a particularly well-known teashop called Tan Ngan Lo, literally meaning one-eyed man which was situated on No. 626. The shop’s name, Tan Ngan Lo Herbal Tea, possibly originated from the fact that the owner, Li Yung-cheong, was said to have born with one eye bigger than the other. That led children to mistakenly think he only had one eye when they glimpsed him from the side, so they called him “one-eyed man” and the name Chun Wo Tong Tan Ngan Lo Herbal Tea stuck. Mr Li was thought to have come from Panyu in Guangzhou around 100 years ago. With his extensive knowledge of Chinese medicine, he was able to carve a niche for himself in the herbal tea business by gaining a reputation for creating exclusive recipes and remedies with a good success rate for healing his customers. His shop used to be located at the junction between Shanghai Street and Saigon Street.