January 28, 2010

Jasmine Tea and Foochow Kompia

There are many famous local legends around Jasmine Tea and Kompia the round and remarkably tastey Foochow palm sized bun which is akin to a mini baquette.

The Photo : Simple life at its best.

When the late multi millionaire Lau Nai Huat was a young and hardworking rubber tapper he collected rubber scraps besides harvesting rubber latex as early as 3 a.m. in the 50's and 60's.

Whenever he took the motor launch to Sibu it would only be on days when he could sell his rubber sheets.

The first thing he bought was a string of 10  kompia which would be his breakfast and lunch. Kompia during his time was ten for ten cents. After that he would deal with the rubber middle men at Hock Chiong. When business was done he went for his usual movie at Lido or the Rex. Again he would only buy the cheapest of seats in the front.

I can still remember as a child how he with his Fuzhou umbrella would sit alone in the front and enjoy a Huang Mei Tiau movie like "The Beauty and the Kingdom" (Chiang Shan Mei Ren) starring Lin Dai and Chou Lei. He would chew his kompia when he got hungry. Lau never sat in a coffee shop unless his friends invited him. (There is another legend involving this)

He later had big shares in timber and his children and descendants are all over the world every one of them millionaires.

Jasmine tea is well known amongst the Foochows as a cleansing drink. Jasmine tea originated in the Foochow district of the Fujian Province where jasmine flowers grow abundantly and have the best fragrance in the world. Timber workers were provided free Jasmine tea in a huge cask in sawmills. School children were also given free tea by the Headmaster . This practice was very prevalent in the 1950's and 1960's.

According to a local legend a few of the oldest Foochow men and women lived more than 100 years because of their tea drinking practice.

So do have the habit of drinking Jasmine Tea. And we used to say chewing kompia makes one as rich as Lau Nai Huat.


Uncle Lee said...

Hi Sarawakiana, interesting story. Lots of old days millionaires were like that.
IMy wife and I drink Chinese green tea, or Japanese Sen Cha, one day 5, 6 cups.
I love Lung Ching Dragon Well especially.
Sometimes will have Jasmine.
Of course mine is cold, haha.
Love your memories, you have a nice day,Lee.

[SK] said...

hmm, i do have a habit to sip two to three cups of green tea in office (from the same tea bag), especially if i've eaten a lot for lunch :p

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Uncle Lee
This is one of my favourite stories about Lau Nai Huat.
Lung Ching tea is nice....so I am sure you will live up to 100.
I love Jasmine tea...

Sarawakiana@2 said...

SK...if you keep it up you will live up to a 100!

Cheers and thanks for visiting.

Ah Ngao said...

younno ,when i saw your photo of jusssst a piece of kompia and a glass of jasmine tea(that jasmine tea is really "pok" and modestly brewed by a simpleton),i laughed and it reminds me of an old man in my neighbour hood,who used to go to the same kopitiam alone to have his chicken porridge(probably for him is considered late supper)in the evening.he's easily spotted because he got a hunch.so what im trying to say is,for a man who is simple at the pocket and his life,sitting in a kopitiam or anyway ,eating just a piece of kompia with a glass of jasmine tea just becoz that's all he can afford, is....heaven.many times,simple thing or food means so so much to a human.

Bengbeng said...

i will try out jasmine tea n if i live up to 100 yrs i will bless yr memory :)

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ah Ngao
Nice of you to have good thoughts for an old man. I am sure you will be blessed by your kindness and good thoughts.
Bless you!!
It is the simple things which make our lives better.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Bengbeng....try drinking jasmine tea...it is refreshing and healthy...

May you live up to a 100!!

God bless.

Ann said...

Hi Cy,

In Cantonese, your Lau Tycoon sounded like NGAO NEI FATT, my younger bro said it in such a way that it sounded like fermented milk. I think he was the father of my neighbour. (I can't confirm that)

I like salty Kompia the old fashion way. The one at the road where LIDO theatre was, we used to watch them knead them and bake it like a NAAN oven. I think my classmate's family operate that bakery.

Then at Lido theatre, there was a vendor who sells a sliver of fatty pork with the dark soya sauce gravy. If I had enough money, a bite into that was heavenly.

Now, in Kuching, they refry it, and I don't like it.

I remember also the boys climbing into the motor launches with the strings of sweet kompia. It never amazes me how they could jump off the launches without falling into the river.

As for the Chans, my Ah kung always had a pot of Chinese tea. But not jasmine tea. We aren't as sophisticated as the Foochows.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Ann

You actually has written all that I have remembered on Blacksmith Road....Now I must remember to take a new photo of Blacksmith Road again from the Kompia shop (Wan Hin). The children are Toh Kie Seng and Toh Kie Ming. They had a beautiful sister. The two brothers are now in Miri and they still have a coffee shop called Wan Hin (at Mega Tower).
Come and we can have kompia with the pork gravy.
Your Ah Kung was a wise man...jasmine or not it is still good Chinese green tea...good to cleanse the body...now we call it detoxication....hehehe..

Cheers to our beautiful memories.

joseph said...

Dear Sarawakiana,
I stumbled upon your blog after goggling the name Lau Nai Huat. He is actually my grandfather who passed away peacefully in 1984 when i was still in secondary school. Very little has been mentioned to me about his life except for his early hardship and thriftiness. I wish to thank you for sharing this story. You certainly have excellent memories of many things. Keep it up.

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