Many people all over the world drink tea, but many may not have known the following 10 tea facts, which I was lucky enough to learn from Mr David Chan, Certified Tea Sommelier (Australian Tea Masters). He shared these interesting facts with myself and a group of other tea-loving participants at 2 tea-pairing sessions at the recent Gastro-A-Fair. We bet these 10 tea facts will change the way you view tea forever!
We got to pair local food (samsui bao, mango pomelo buche and ondeh ondeh buche) and Korean food (snow cheese chicken bumbuk and kimchi mandu dumplings) with 5 types of tea which were specially prepared by Mr Andy Chin and his friendly staff behind homegrown company The Tea Depot.
The tea pairing sessions were supported by e2i as part of the Labour Movement’s efforts to highlight the specialities of local F&B establishments, and promote skills transfer from experts of various trades, especially for Singaporeans.
I definitely benefited from this session, and would like to share 10 facts which I found really interesting!
1. The Most Expensive Tea (大红包 or Red Robe Tea) Costs $10,000 A Pot
If you think wine is more expensive than tea, think again. Just like wine, the quality of the tea depends on many factors which are prized greatly by discerning tea enthusiasts.
This is something I didn’t expect. I appreciated how Mr David Chan took the effort to go through the various methods of making different kinds of tea from the same plant, camellia sinesis.
3. Tea Blending Is The Next Big Thing In Singapore
What on earth is tea blending? It is combining different flavours into one drink, such as this beautifully-fragrant and multi-layered “Eight Secrets From The Far East” tea blend from The Tea Depot. It has (take a deep breath): Jasmine Tea, Gunpowder Green Tea, Se Chung Oolong Tea, Sencha Green Tea, Chun Mee Green Tea, Mao Feng Green Tea, Mango Flakes, Lichee Green Tea, Pai Mu Tan White Tea, Wolfberries, Safflowers, Rose Petals, Aroma.
It’s not as easy as just anyhow mixing different tea leaves together to get that perfect taste. In fact, according to Mr David Chan, it takes at least 2 weeks to even train your taste buds to be sensitive enough for tea-tasting.
4. Tea Can Be Paired With Any Cuisine
Mr David Chan had a good point when he said that tea is the staple you’ll find in many cuisines. There is no right or wrong way to pair tea, it depends on your own preference.
5. For Good Quality Tea, Use Whole Tea Leaves, Not Teabags
For lazy people, tea bags are really convenient to prepare tea. However, if you want a better quality taste of tea, brew tea leaves instead. Whole leaves, especially the top 3 leaves of the tea plant stem, are the best.
6. Don’t Leave Tea In Hot Water For Too Long Or It’ll Taste Acidic
Wonder why your tea has a ‘siap siap’ or bitter / tannic taste? It’s because you’ve brewed the tea leaves in water that’s too hot, or left the tea leaves in hot water for too long. Check out these recommended brewing durations and water temperatures to get a better flavour out of your tea.
7. Like Sweeter Green Tea? Brew With 65 – 70°C Water & Use Less Water
This is a useful tip by David Chan for tea drinkers who prefer sweeter tea. Try it and see if it works!
8. Tea is rich in antioxidants, just like red wine
It’s better to drink tea than soft drinks. The former has less sugar, more antioxidants and many other constituents which benefit your health. Do note that tea also makes you go to the toilet more often, so balance this by drinking more water.
9. Evian, Fiji & Volvic Mineral Water Are Great For Brewing Tea, And So Is Tap Water
David Chan recommended we use water with minerals as it enhances the taste of the tea, compared to distilled water. However, the mineral water shouldn’t be too “hard”. On a budget, our Singapore tap water works well too 🙂
10. Tea Can Be Served In Wine Glasses Too!
If you have beautiful wine glasses, why not serve tea in them? You can appreciate the colour of the tea swirling around in the transparent wine glass and impress your guests with your creative presentation of tea.