Mrs. Tsang graduated from Xiamen University with a major in Chemistry. She came from a very well-educated family background. Her father taught at the Sun Yat-sen University while her mother was a pediatrician. In 1955, at aged 26, she came to Hong Kong from Fujian and worked as a research analyst at Amoy Soy Sauce Company for 13 years. In all those 13 years, her ‘buddies’ were the test tubes, various data and chemical terms.
Back then, she was the only female analyst at the Amoy Soy Sauce Company, which she was often ridiculed and looked down by her male colleagues, but she did not let that bother her. She kept her cool and just kept focusing in her research work as she believed creating success with her hands, not with her mouth.
Every day, she just devoted her time in the laboratory. She conducted mock tests on soybeans, flour, water and salt repeatedly and observed how each ingredient reacted under each fermentation and the ratios of each ingredient. She recorded each result in detail and submitted the reports to her boss as she wanted Amoy Soy Sauce Company to be even more successful. However, as the boss passed on the business to his next generation, Mrs. Tsang and the successors’ beliefs and philosophies went quite a separate direction, so Mrs. Tsang just took a bold move — left the company and set up her own soy sauce factory in 1974 in Sha Tin, Hong Kong.
As Mrs. Tsang’s husband strongly believed that soy sauce was a symbol of Chinese culture, so he named the company and brand as Yuan’s / 頤和園, which means “Summer Palace” in English. In 1980s, unfortunately, the Government had to take over the land, and Yuan’s was in trouble. Fortunately, Mr. Li Luda (the brother-in-law of Mrs. Zeng, an industrialist and a well-known philanthropist in China, which a star has even named after him) offered full support to Mrs. Tsang, so Mrs. Tsang was able to relocate to our current location — Sung Shan New Village in Yuen Long until now.
Mrs. Tsang used all natural brewing methods. For example, she insisted using Canadian non-genetically modified soybeans and cooked with wood fire. Then, brewing with sterilized water from the well in Yuen Long as it did make a difference to the fragrance and taste of the soy sauce, which her remaining staff is still making the soy sauce the same way. Having worked with soy sauce for more than half a century, Mrs. Tsang shared her experience and concluded that “It takes TIME to brew soy sauce, NOT the manpower”.
Mrs. Tsang treated soy sauce as a condiment with a history of thousands of years, which was also a representation of the Chinese culture and wisdom. To many, the production of soy sauce seems so complicated, but in the eyes of the experienced Mrs. Tsang, it was a piece of cake — soybeans were added to flour and fermented, then it became a healthy and flavor-enhancing sauce. To make high-quality soy sauce, we insist on the late Mrs. Tsang’s way by not adding any chemical or any unnatural ingredient in the production process as well as mastering the fermentation process throughout manually. What made her so proud all those years was her 120,000 square feet soy sauce ‘kingdom’ in Yuen Long where tons of soy sauce were exported to Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, Singapore and Taiwan, which each sauce passed the EU import standard.
In 2000, a very passionate food company, Fu Kee, approached Mrs. Tsang with all their sincerity and plans…and finally she agreed to open up the local Hong Kong market. Now, the products are also distributed to Macau and Taiwan.
Because of her reputation, success, background and experience, Mrs. Tsang was named the “Queen of Soy Sauce” in Hong Kong. She also used scientific methods to deconstruct food elements. She was convinced that medicine and food came from the same source and eating healthy is the most important thing. Yuan’s signature product is the Royal Soy Sauce (125 ml), with a retail price tag of more than HK$200. The Royal Soy Sauce was originated from a Fujian-style soy sauce. It is traditionally called 翕仔清with a history of more than 2,000 years. With its strong and unique background, many called it the XO in the Soy Sauce industry.
Royal Soy Sauce is an extremely rare traditional soy sauce in the market, therefore, it has been highly sought after by the Hong Kong and international media. TVB, TVB8, RTHK Broadcast, CNN, Bloomberg, Times, Japan-Asahi, JAL (the Japanese Airline), TV stations from the Netherlands and Spain, and other major magazines and newspapers all have extensive coverage of it.
In this modern society, while everyone relies on machines to mass produce soy sauce, Mrs. Tsang’s team still insists on making soy sauce the most traditional ways. This is how a local and known brand was born.