Typically at Yum Cha there are three options to the tea: jasmine green tea, chrysanthemum herbal tea and Sow Mee tea 壽眉茶. Sow Mee tea is classed under the Chinese tea system as a white tea, alongside Pai Mu Tan and Silver Needle.
Depending on who you talk to, the rules on what makes a white tea can vary. But the general consensus is that it is a tea with the least amount of handling by people. Ideally the leaves and buds are just plucked and dried.
Of the three grades of white tea, Sow Mee is the tea of the common folk because it is cheap and can still be brewed into a strong dark liquor. Hence the name Sow Mee 壽眉: poetic licence to let buyers know that old folks love it.
Qigong 氣功 is on the most basic level focused breathing exercises designed to increase a person’s inner energy. On the next level up, it is essentially for most people light aenorobic exercises that most people can do on a daily basis.
Done daily, both the drinking of tea like Sow Mee 壽眉茶 and qigong are more beneficial to the body than not doing them at all. Traditionally when a master was in repose, they were typically engaged in them and as such can be viewed as a form of wushu leisure.
Martial Qigong 武氣功 is the ancient discipline of using qigong as part of a master’s martial art practice. A lot of it is hidden in secrecy, mystery and wuxia literature that makes the line between fact and fiction a little more than blurred.
But to dismiss it as outright mumbo-jumbo would be to miss the truth that some made up stuff is deliberately misleading to keep the “real secrets” hidden from prying eyes. The secret maybe something quite mundane and right in front of the observers’ eyes, but may represent a strategic and tactical advantage to its bearer.
Sow Mee tea 壽眉茶 on one level has got nothing to do with Martial Qigong 武氣功. Then again, they share the same roots and there are Qigong exercises that involve little cups of tea being moved around the body.