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A tale of two tea houses

Yin He is a popular breakfast place for local residents/Sin Chew Daily

Publication Date : 18-09-2012


Talking about great drinking places, Yin He Tea House would spontaneously come to mind among the people of Triang, Malaysia.

Compared to the younger generation, the older town folks are probably more familiar with Nan Zhou Tea House. Both Yin He and Nan Zhou were related to each other in a specific manner that highlighted the early history of Hakka migrants in Triang.

Founder of Nan Zhou, Zhu Jun was born in China in 1900. He travelled down to Malaya to make a living and settled down in the rubber plantation Triang Estate. He started working as a contractor before starting his Nan Zhou Tea House. The teahouse was passed down to his son, Zhu Fo Xing after he passed away at the age of 80.

Zhu Fo Xing told Sin Chew Daily he was born in KL and by the time he was brought to Triang at the age of two, Nan Zhou was already in operation.

Nan Zhou operated as a tea room cum bar downstairs and a hotel on the upper floor. The first shop lot on the town's Main Street, the original Nan Zhou is today the town's only pawn shop. As the police station was just across the street from Nan Zhou, many British police officers would drink at the bar in the evening during colonial days. A licence had to be applied to the Temerloh Municipal Council to operate a bar offering liquors to customers.

Nan Zhou was later relocated to a double-storey shophouse along Lorong Pasar just behind the Main Street in 1979. The original shop was rented to another teahouse operator who retained the business name of Nan Zhou, while the new operation was named Yin He Tea House, leased at a monthly rent of about 80 ringgit (US$26.1).

The origin of the name Yin He was somewhat interesting. A hair salon called Jin He (literally means gold river) was located on the first floor of the teahouse and Yin He (literally means silver river) was coined to match the name of the salon.

After operating Yin He for almost a decade, the business owner bought the shop lot from the landlord. As for the original Nan Zhou, the business changed hands several times before a pawn shop owner took over the premises.

72-year-old Zhu Fo Xing, who has passed down the teahouse business to his 49-year-old son Zhu Yun Lai, said the shop also sold toasts besides serving tea.

"Before Planta butter came into the market, the toasts used to be spread only with a single coat of kaya. As for the beverage, we served white coffee, black coffee, Ovaltine, Milo, Nestum, milk tea and milk coffee-tea."

Translated by Winnie Chooi


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