Discover our favourite haunts for a soothing cup of tea.
It was only a matter of time for the growing demand for local and sustainable products to take over the tea market. Tea drinkers in Singapore are increasingly concerned about traceability, being, the origins of their tea, how it is grown and who grows it.
For this round-up we’ve selected three locally-founded tea shops which have a keen focus on sourcing teas from regions that support biodiversity and the traditional practices associated with tea picking and roasting.
1. CAMELLIA 茗岩
The Chinese characters in Camellia’s name, “茗岩” translates to mean “fine tea cliff”. Specialising in Wuyi Rock Oolong, only tea leaves grown and harvested from the Wuyi Mountains in Fujian province, China are used by this tea shop.
Apart from being a UNESCO World Heritage Site rich in biodiversity, the volcanic soils in the Wuyi Mountains are mineral-dense. The teas grown on such rocky grounds, as opposed to soft top soil, tend to develop a stronger more pronounced flavour. This could explain Camellia’s popularity and the distinct taste of its teas.
In explaining the inspiration behind using leaves from the Wuyi Mountains, Yau Nga Kwan, the founder of Camellia mentioned that her father had good relationships with the farmers at the Wuyi tea plantations and she personally found the quality of tea to be unparalleled. She founded Camellia as she wanted to showcase the tea from that region which is only harvested once a year in extremely small batches.
She also noticed that tea supply routes in Singapore tended to be extremely opaque, involving several middle men. This often resulted in an inflated price for tea and offered a much lower quality to consumers. By sourcing tea directly from farms, Camellia ensures that only the freshest leaves of the highest standards are being used for their brews.
2. PHOENIX HILL TEA MERCHANT
Phoenix Hill is known for its wide selection of Chinese teas, which are grown, harvested and roasted by the company. Their tea leaves are harvested from Phoenix Hill located at Shantou, in Guangdong; the area most known for its oolong tea. The roasting process is done strictly by charcoal which imparts a slightly smoky aroma to the leaves.
Apart from teas, their flagship store also sells a wide range of paraphernalia such as both traditional and modern teapots, teacups and strainers. There are also useful guides on tea tasting notes as well as water quality for brewing the perfect cup of tea on their website.
3. PEK SIN CHOON
Being one of the most well-known tea stores since its founding almost 100 years ago, Pek Sin Choon is perhaps the oldest tea shop around. It offers close to 100 varieties of teas each packed in traditional pink paper wrapping.
It supplies tea to restaurants in hotels in Singapore, most famously to ba-kut-teh shops. The owner, Kenny Peh, is extremely welcoming to visitators and we recommend booking a tasting session to learn more about Pek Sin Choon’s range of teas.
Read more about Pek Sin Choon in our September/October ‘Tea’ issue on Magzter.