27 Apr Feeding My Passion: A Tea Appreciation Workshop In Singapore
I’m a passionate person. When I like something, I love it with all I’ve got, almost obsessively, and I’m loyal to no end.Why am I telling you this about myself, you ask? Because one of those passions of mine is tea.
Being a coffee hater, (how can you stand the smell?) I find that drinking tea is art-like. It’s elegant, and relaxing, and healing, and to put it bluntly: yum.
During my extensive research of cool/different things to do in Singapore, I read that in Chinatown, there’s a teashop where you can take a tea appreciation workshop with a tea sommelier.
It was like telling a bunch of beliebers that The Biebs was coming to town.
This experience turned out to be the highlight of our day in Chinatown and, if you push me, of our ten days in Singapore.
When we arrived at Yixing Xuan Tea House the heat outside was suffocating so the air-con was a relief. We were a bit early so they still had some prepping to do before the workshop. While we waited, I took the chance to browse around the shop. I wanted everything. I’m not kidding. Worse than a hipster in a barber shop.
The place isn’t big. It’s home-like and cozy. It wasn’t hard to imagine that we had been invited over to a friend’s house for tea. (Note to self: find me some of these friends.)
They sell the most beautiful teapots, infusers, teas, tools… It just made me more excited about learning all that I could about tea.
Once Charlene (tea master) was ready, she asked us to sit across from her. She placed four tea saucers on the table labeled as: white, green, oolong, and black. It took all my self control not to pick them up and smell them right there.
Next to her there was a lit candle where I suspected she was going to heat the water.
No microwave? We were off to a great start.
She introduced herself. She’s a former banker who one day woke up and realized that she didn’t love numbers as much as she loved tea. Seriously, how do you not know that from the start? I mean, It’s tea. And numbers. I don’t see the competition. But I digress…
From the minute she started talking tea, she captivated me. She spoke with such passion, and even if I hadn’t already loved tea before coming to her, I’m sure I would’ve by the end.
She first explained that all teas-meaning white, green, oolong, and black- come from the same plant. All other loosely called teas (chamomile, rooibos, ginseng, etc) are not really teas. Sorry, Charlene but I still love them.
It depends on which part of this plant you pick, and how you prepare it afterwards what determines the kind of tea you’ll get. This was so informative. I just knew I loved tea but I was completely ignorant about all that goes behind making it. From the picking, to the roasting, to the serving. She showed us some pictures of tea plantations in China and now they’re at the top of my bucketlist.
Then, it was time for the tasting.
“Tea,” Charlene said, “shouldn’t be rushed. It’s supposed to be slow, it’s supposed to relax you. It’s all about the flavor, the smell, and the company you’re sharing it with.”
Chinese tea drinking is way more relaxed and less ceremonial than Japanese tea, she also explained.
Noticing our anticipation, she warmed water on the candle and placed our sniffers on top of the tray. We learned that these are used for smelling the tea. From the teapot, you pour your tea into your sniffer, and from your sniffer to your cup. Once it’s empty, you smell the sniffer to appreciate the tea’s aroma. If there’s something better than the taste of tea, it’s the smell.
First we tried the white tea. It was good. I mean really good. Warm, almost sweet but not too much to make it obvious. Like rainy afternoons, blankets and good books.
The green, which I’ve always been a huge fan of, didn’t disappoint. It tasted so Asian. Like travels, and adventures, and far away places.
I have to say that the Oolong was my favorite. I’d never tasted one so fresh and pure. It had this roasted aftertaste to it. Like campfires, and cabins and cold. It warmed me.
Lastly we tried the green tea with jasmine because it’s a very popular tea. But it didn’t move me like all the other three did. I’ll take my green tea solo, any day.
We drank round after round out of our mini cups-which should always be this size. We’re just so used to super sizing everything. While sipping we talked, listened to stories about tea pickers, about Charlene’s dad who built the store, and about travel.
Afterwards, when I knew what all the items in the store were used for, I felt like I needed them. I have no house, no furniture, hell I don’t even have a permanent address, but I needed these tea sets.
This was the first time I regretted having only a backpack in which they’d never fit. Oh well, maybe someday I’ll go back and fill my entire backpack of tea supplies. I don’t know about you guys, but that sounds like a perfect plan to me.
I’m so glad we had the opportunity to have this experience. It made me even more passionate about tea (if that was even possible) and it opened my eyes to all I could learn about this little magical plant if I really want to.
If you’re ever in Singapore, I can’t recommend Yixing Xuan Tea House enough. Because you know what they say: “You can’t buy happiness but you can buy a cup of tea, which is pretty much the same thing.”
Have you gone to any tea workshops? Where? Or have you experiences something that you’re passionate about in a foreign place? I’d love to hear all about it. Leave a comment at the section below.