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A few years ago, I had a little debate with a colleague about whether yumcha is healthy or not. As an Asian, and a Yumcha lover, I pointed out that most dishes are steamed and so therefore, they must be healthy. But she very quickly pointed out, just as I was gulping down a rather large dumpling, that most yumcha dishes are laden with carbs. My mouth was full and so she had the last say.
Last weekend I enjoyed a long and delicious yumcha brunch with my besties. Whilst we sat sampling the fine array of delectable dim sums, conversations flowed seamlessly across the Lazy Susan, I couldn’t help but notice that at our table, spring rolls kept getting rejected. They were like the unpopular kids at the school prom. Unpicked and made to huddle in their own (bamboo-encased) circle. But it wasn’t just the spring rolls, buns, desserts and other deep fried dishes also didn’t make much of an appearance at our table…much to my disappointment. My friends are not health nuts and they love to eat. But they are pretty healthy people. So I munched loudly and observed quietly. And thanks to them, I made a discovery: you can be healthy at yumcha!
These are my 5 tips on how to be healthy at yumcha:
1. Order more steamed dishes. Chinese broccoli drizzled in Oyster sauce is the greenest dish available. Those prawn dumplings with their translucent skins and tender bouncy flesh are de rigueur yum cha. How do you know if they’re steamed? They are not deep-fried and have steam coming off them.
2. Portion control. Order your favourite naughty dishes (like the deep fried Taro Dumplings or Egg Tarts) but ask the waitresses to cut them up into halves or thirds. Some of them may get a bit impatient if you ask them during ‘peak hour’ but a ‘pretty please with a cherry on top’ (in Chinese, of course) won’t go astray. Just don’t mention the word ‘split’ or they may think you’re referring to the bill and they may hyperventilate.
3. Bottoms up. I’m referring to the tea. The white porcelain pots of Jasmine or Chrysanthemum tea isn’t just there to aid hydration or act as palate cleansers. They aid in digestion, break down the fatty food and even lower cholesterol! Plus, pouring tea for one another is common courtesy, the most basic of manners. But of course, you already know that.
4. When possible, eat upstairs. And take the stairs. Which leads me to the last one, another exercise tip…
5. Park far far away, so you can walk off the calories and perhaps even avoid the afternoon slump! So don’t hesitate to order those egg tarts. Yumcha is a treat, after all!