Just how hot is this humble drink now? Going by the growing number of boutique tea houses, trendy artisanal brands and cool millennials giving it a stylish makeover in Singapore, it’s the new coffee. Keng Yang Shuen reports on why you should be making it your next cuppa.
Call it the third wave of tea if you will, today, the traditional brew is no longer consumed by your parents’ generation or as a quotidian coffee shop drink. In recent years, there has been a slew of independent outfits, restaurateurs and foreign players getting onto the tea scene.
Kenny Leong, a tea consultant and freelance writer, credits the rise in visibility to TWG Tea, the Singapore-based success story that first came onto the luxury tea scene in 2008, but has since expanded to more than a dozen territories globally. With its savvy blend of marketing and design – tin canisters recall that of Old World trade products and cafes done up like English tea rooms – the brand modernised tea drinking and made it into a lifestyle.
Since then, there’s been a glut of brands entering the market. Juan Tea, Antea Social and Camellia are the newbies, all launched within the last year (and to be available online next month: Kindred Teas), with each putting its own spin on the brew.
Some focus on the health aspect. Camellia, helmed by Yau Nga Kwan, specialises in loose leaf black and oolong tea sourced from farms in the Wuyi Mountain region. According to Afrose Parveen, a nutritionist with Eat Right Nutrition Consultancy, loose leaves contain higher concentrations of catechin – a plant-based antioxidant that’s been linked to lower risks of heart disease, cancer and diabetes – than tea bags.
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