Singapore loves its breakfast beverages. Coffee, for one, has an ever-growing national presence catalysed by our iron-clad café culture. Tea, especially with the current matcha wave, is also becoming a firm rival. The two drinks are also at the heart of our beloved coffee shop, or kopitiam scene, where a morning meal would be amiss without a beer mug full of teh or kopi.
Chinese tea, on the other hand, is a bit of an intermediary. It usually has a place during banquets, or a Chinese meal, but rarely do we seek it out the way we would with cold brew coffee or bubble teas.
Some have the impression that Chinese tea is too old-fashioned, or reserved for an aged crowd. We think there’s a lot of charm to be had with teas that date back to the Tang Dynasty, and are still processed with ancient methods today. One cannot forget the significance these teas have to Chinese culture and history, as well as the fact that each type of tea is highly complex.
Chinese tea comes in a few forms — non-fermented, scented, smoked, fermented, semi-fermented, and aged. It is as nuanced as wine. A tea house is your best bet to gain a full appreciation of anything between long jing and pu’erh.
We’ve compiled a handful of Chinese tea houses and merchants to visit for a tasting. The next time you plan to café-hop, give these a shot instead.