Ko Hou Kam herbal tea, the first sip fills the mouth with bitterness, yet yields a lingering sweetness once it slips down the throat, hence its name meaning sweetness after consumption. A nationwide popular beverage back in the 90s, Ko Hou Kam advertisements were aired on various television stations, and even distributed abroad. With a superfluity of health drinks available nowadays, Ko Hou Kam eventually diminishes, and can only be found at certain traditional Chinese medicine store or its place of origin – Mambau.
Mambau is a small town on the outskirts of Seremban, Negeri Sembilan. At the beginning of the 20th century, as the rubber industry flourished, large-scale plantations were developed in Mambau. The village was established in the 50s, the majority of the 200 households were rubber tappers. Due to its strategic geographical location, the rail freight route from Port Dickson pass through the border of Mambau village (now demolished), and so does the Federal Route 53 linking Seremban and Port Dickson. Before the construction of Seremban–Port Dickson Highway, Federal Route 53 is the main road leading to Port Dickson, tourists usually stop by Mambau for rest and refreshments.
Located just off the main road, Mambau Khek Yong Tau Fu may have a shabby appearance, however it is the birthplace of Ko Hou Kam herbal tea. The founder, the late Mr Kum Loong Poh, used to work in the construction industry. However, business failure due to the global economic recession of the early 1980s caused him to seek new opportunities in the food and beverages industry. In order to finance the household, Mr Kum worked long hours till the point that he suffered from health complications. After consuming a herbal tea prepared according to a prescription which his ancestors brought over from China, his condition improved. Since the herbal tea has proven health benefits, Mr Kum decided to promote it so that others can enjoy improved health too.
The original herbal brew has a bitter aftertaste, therefore the late Mr Kum Loong Poh researched and developed an ideal herbal tea formula suitable for general consumption as well as offering a lingering sweetness. The main ingredients of Ko Hou Kam herbal tea are camellia, silver needle, and chrysanthemum. Silver needle tea leaves are subjected to processing in order to neutralise acidity: sun-dried after being harvested, stems removed, and the tea leaves are then fermented for 100 days. Ko Hou Kam herbal tea comes in individually sealed tea bags for ease of consumption.
Ko Hou Kam herbal tea was initially sold in Mambau Khek Yong Tau Fu as well as a friend’s coffee-shop. Back then, the health drink market just started to grow, imported health drinks were expensive, and there were barely any local manufacturers. Mr Kum Loong Poh’s savviness in launching Ko Hou Kam herbal tea at an affordable price instantly gained market popularity, hitting the shelves of medical stores as well as being distributed nationwide. As manual packaging became inefficient due to increasing demands, he set up a small factory and invested in an automated packaging system to ease operations and storage.
After the passing of the late Mr Kum Loong Poh, his sons Kum Han Soon and Kum Han Loong took over the operations of Mambau Khek Yong Tau Fu and Ko Hou Kam, thus prevented disappointing regular customers. However, intensifying market competition led to business decline, structural market changes dealt another severe blow – younger generations prefer to consume unhealthy beverages such as bubble milk tea, only a few would appreciate herbal tea. Even so, Kum Han Loong did not give up, but turned to taking phone orders and online marketing to explore new opportunities.
The Kum brothers are born and bred in Mambau, plus Ko Hou Kam was founded by their late father in this small town, tight bonds flourish within the local community, therefore they chose to stay in their hometown to carry on the family business. Nevertheless, herbal tea is not some magical remedy. Kum Han Loong gently reminds everyone not to simply rely on herbal tea for health benefits, but to combine with regular exercise, maintain a daily routine, and eat a balanced diet, living a healthy lifestyle to keep the mind and body fit.
有你 UNI Production
Producer : Daniel Lim
Cinematographer : Amelia Lim / Evon Pang / Michael Lerk
Drone : Daniel Lim
Video Editor : Evon Pang
Copywriter : Pua Hui Wen
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