In the ultra-competitive, fast-paced market of technology and gear, the impulse to purchase new products tends to go hand-in-hand with an overwhelming, day-long deep dive into facts, specs and beyond. The latest smartphone. Wearable tech. VR consoles. In our Review column, we hope to paint you a concise and informative picture of what exactly you’re getting into – before you smash that Purchase button. This week, we review Tea Château’s tea capsules and their minimalist machine.
Tea Château is a newly launched tea capsule brand in Hong Kong with 13 tea varieties spanning both traditional Chinese teas and functional teas. The brand hopes to bring an inspired and reimagined tea experience with their capsules and machine at the touch of a button. The tea leaves and ingredients are blended and packaged into capsules in Hong Kong, and are also compatible with Nespresso and Nestle Dolce Gusto machines.
The Tea Master
Tea Château’s Tea Master Elton Yeung has always been fascinated with traditional Chinese tea culture, going on to pursue his passion professionally after graduating from school. He worked as a sommelier and manager in various tea brands to broaden his horizon in the realm before eventually joining Tea Château. Part of his role consists of quality control in the form of vigorous taste testing, ensuring that the teas meet the brand’s stringent standards. We sit down with him to find out more about the brand and their efforts to modernize the art of brewing tea in the comfort of our homes.
What are the benefits of tea capsules as a product compared to loose-leaf products or tea bags?
We as modern consumers are always pressed for time. We seek quality goods and services with the utmost convenience. Tea Château provides a complete capsule and machine system that can brew a quality cup of tea at the touch of a button within just 30 seconds at the ideal tea-to-water ratio and temperature.
Our teas combine the extensive expertise of traditional Chinese and Western remedies that are suitable for different taste preferences, body types and occasions. We also take great care to source tea leaves and herbal ingredients from their native provinces before they are blended and packaged in Hong Kong.
What are some local trends in tea that you have noticed?
Tea culture has been constantly evolving over the ages. Tea was actually first used for medical purposes before it was ingested as food and then later consumed as a beverage. Now tea is seen as a lifestyle beverage as much as a functional one.
More and more people are also becoming increasingly interested in tea and its origins, blends and flavour profiles. We are seeing a growing number of consumers view tea like sommeliers view wine. Some are particular in choosing specific teaware to bring out the best quality of each tea.
If a coffee-drinker is trying to switch to tea, which teas should they explore?
Undoubtedly coffee and tea are the most popular beverages worldwide. Coffee drinkers love coffee’s unique richness and the complex flavour profile with a hint of bitterness, and of course, the energy boost that comes with it. I would recommend coffee drinkers to try black and dark teas.
Pu’er is a dark tea blend from our tea capsule range. It has a reddish, wine-like hue with a unique combination of sweetness and mildness. It can relieve indigestion and promote blood circulation as well as bowel movements.
Do you need it?
I don’t consider myself a tea purist by any means, but it did take me a while to warm up to the idea of tea capsules. We had one piece of unanimous feedback after fiddling around with the Tea Château Minimalist Tea Capsule Machine: While we appreciated that the capsules could be used interchangeably across other beverage makers, we’d hoped that their version would’ve allowed for taller mugs to be inserted under the dispenser.
Tea, to us, is a drink to be refilled multiple times, cradled and sipped for hours on end until we hit the watery, barely-there liquid. And then we’ll still throw more hot water into it. Perhaps it was also our own nostalgia that drove one of our colleagues to cut open a used capsule and pour the leaves into a separate glass filter to enjoy the flavours a little longer. So, yes, having a larger pour option (the machine currently only dispenses 120ml or 150ml pours) would definitely have been preferable.
We certainly loved the range of flavours available but when it comes to the big question – do you need it? – I’m on the fence.
I could see Tea Château capsules working as an alternative for coffee drinkers who already own a machine, which most in Hong Kong already do, as well as folks who want a fast, no-thinking-necessary brew in the morning. Perhaps this is where first-movers advantage comes in. Being the first (to our knowledge) tea capsule on the market, Tea Château is in a prime position to capture the ultra-modern, no-fuss consumers in our city.
If you’ve popped into our office the last couple of weeks, you would have seen various members of the Lifestyle Asia team meandering around with mugs of Tea Château; sipping, savouring and deliberating. Here are a few of our favourites:
We’re all nightlife ghouls here so anything that claims to detoxify the liver will be high on our list. This summer edition tea is a blend of ginseng oolong and jujube with a fun minty kick. Great for the post-drinking mornings as a healthy and energising pick-me-up.
Pu’er is prized for its refined taste and sophisticated flavors. By combining Chenpi (orange peel) with aged, ripe Pu’er, this tea strengthens the spleen, reduces phlegm, relieves coughs and regulates gastrointestinal motility. This was the most elevated version of the traditional blend that we’ve tried in a while.