Yuen Kut Lam – producer of Kam Wo tea – vanishing HK trades

Mary Anne Le Bas has sent an SCMP article, Six home-grown Hong Kong trades at risk of dying out, published on 21st June 2015. The fifth of these is a product that has been around for around 200 years. The company was founded by current manager Yuen Yee Lum’s great-great-grandfather in Guangzhou, in 1835. Mr Yuen believes his is the last company making tea this way in Hong Kong, and he thinks in China, too.

Yuen Kut Lam Tea image of manager Yuen Yee Lum SCMP 21.6.15

Yuen Yee Lum Courtesy: SCMP

The article begins: Up until the 70s, “drink a little box of tea” was a common saying in Hong Kong. Yuen Yee-lum manages Yuen Kut Lam, the family company that produces Kam Wo tea, a medicinal herbal blend that has been made to the same recipe for nearly 200 years. Cold and flu sufferers are advised to drink two little boxes of tea a day, at a very hot temperature, until they recover. It can also be drunk in smaller quantities to boost digestion and maintain good health.

“My great-great-grandfather founded the company in Guangzhou, in 1835, during the Daoguang period of the Qing dynasty. His family had become rich running a paints and chemicals business. In Chinese culture, wealthy people are expected to give back by doing something to benefit society. One of his sons was interested in Chinese medicine, and he invented the tea.

“At that time, low-income people frequently died from their illnesses because they couldn’t afford to visit a doctor. My ancestors sold the tea at a cheap price so even poor people could buy it. When there was an outbreak of flu, or other diseases, they distributed it in local towns and villages.

“In 1906 they moved to Hong Kong and opened our store in Sheung Wan.”

“We blend 28 herbs to make the tea. The recipe and the production techniques have been passed down the generations. We cook the herbs to extract the juice and then dry them in the sun. We repeat the process nine times, so it takes at least nine days. This is what gives the tea its special qualities and we keep certain aspects of the process secret.

“We’re the last company making tea this way in Hong Kong, and I think in China, too…”

This article was first posted on 24th June 2016.

See: Six home-grown Hong Kong trades at risk of dying out SCMP 21st June 2015

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. Ying Mee and Yue Mou tea companies – information needed
  2. Traditional Tea Growing in the New Territories, RASHKB article
  3. Tea in China, HK Naturalist article 1931
  4. The British Hong-Kong Tea Company, London
  5. South China Tea Corporation (華南茶業) and “Cocktail Tea” (鷄尾茶)
  6. Brook Bernacchi – tea estate Ngong Ping, and first Western resident on Lantau island


  • Are there any way to contact Yuen Yee Lum?

    Would it not be in humanity’s interest to ask him to leave the full receipt of ingredients and how to make the Kam Wo tea so the legacy can continue and most importantly to continue to help people?

    I have had very bad eczema and skin infection and through chance, my mum drank this Kam Wo tea for about 3 months daily and she had many illness symptoms cleared.

    So I tried it and been taking it for around 20 days daily now and i’m not sure is this a coincidence but my infection is clearing up and eczema improving dramatically. I am still taking it daily with a lot of hope.

    Before i tried steroid creams and antibiotics from my doctor and it’s just keeps coming back worse and i dare say is dangerous using those steroids long term…

    Alan from Scotland.

    • William Yuen

      I am a family member, and was a director. Family feud has essentially killed the business. The formula is publicly know.

      • Alan

        William thanks for the reply. But if the formula is kept, can you please try to get a company to produce it so it is widely available throughout the world for the community? End of the day it can be a business and serve the health of the community.

        Really appreciate if you don’t give up on such a formula.

        • William

          Unfortunately, the guys in charge have all he legal registration and ownership rights and a third party is not allowed to copy the production

      • Kirsten

        Hi, is this tea no longer being produced? I’ve been drinking it for years and will be incredibly sad if I can no longer get it.
        It’s the best!

    • Kay from Australia

      Hi Alan,

      Do you mind sharing how much of the tea you and Mom consume daily?


      • Alan

        Well not a lot now as I don’t see to see it available for sale anymore from all the Chinese supermarkets.

        It appears to have been discontinued. If it goes back to circulation for sale, I would probably take it weekly.

        • David McKinney

          Well I can still get this tea in Luxembourg (coming via Liroy, importer to the Netherlands.). So it’s still getting made.

        • Coen Naninck

          I bought a pack of this tea on Jan 30, 2022, at a Chinese toko called ‘Amazing Oriental Rotterdam Parkhaven (Amazing Oriental)’, here in the Netherlands, which you can find if you Google the part between the quotes. Maybe the pack I bought was a leftover from final shipment, I hope not.

          Perhaps if you buy large quantities from them they will ship it to you, it’s a physical store first and foremost, though. If you try that, I think it you’d make a good chance of them shipping it to you if you let them know you want to buy a lot, first.

          I’d also be really saddened if I can’t get this tea anymore. First time I tried it it was like my first taste of Oolong tea (although it tastes very differently), I didn’t like it very much (although Oolong was really bad the first time, this tea not so much). Then the next day the taste kind of lingered on my mind and tried it again, and enjoyed it a lot. Guess my taste buds needed to adapt to the unique flavor. Now I find myself drinking it daily. That said, 6,50 Euro for a 10 pack box (20 servings (2 per pack)) is quite steep, but worth it.

          • Nicholas from Australia

            Hi Coen
            This tea appears to be back in circulation now, at least where I live. I didn’t realise there were issues with its distribution globally in the past few years as I have only recently discovered it. Have you been able to locate it / find a supplier where you are?

  • Yam Chee Hong

    My mother Mdm Yuen Poh Yin migrate from Hong Kong to Malaya { now call Malaysia} with my father Mr. Yam Teck Chung and settle down in HISTORICAL MELAKA. During my school days I was very active in sports such as hockey, football {soccer} and used to trained in the sun for many hours. and occasionally hv high fever. and my mom will boil a kettle of Yuen Kat Lam herbal tea for me and the other siblings to drink..She always told me how great this herbal tea was and till today I agree with her coz I have tried many type of herbal tea in Malaysia and non can compare with Yuen Kat Lam Kam Wo tea, Honest speaking. I have tried to source many Chinese Medical shop in Melaka and was told that this herbal tea is no more in the market. and can only buy from Singapore. What !!! So, Sir. Can you recommend where I can get this herbal tea in Melaka. TQ

  • Cliff yuen

    Where can I get this kum wo char in California or Hawaii.

  • Lewis

    Hi, the original packaging where can i buy? Besides Hong Kong. The bitterness is acceptable. Yesterday my chinese doctor offer me a box to try. He said if my body improve, nxt time look for the HK original packaging. Well my body ying & yang has mess up, my doctor said drink this tea everyday to tune my body system.

    • Nicholas from Australia

      Hi Lewis
      Which country are you located in? I have found this product at some Asian grocers here in Australia, although I know that others are no longer stocking it. I have only recently discovered this tea as I was given some to sample from a friend (of HK origin) as it helped him with a number of health ailments.

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