Tell me you’re a tea person without telling me you’re a tea person. Okay so, I start each day in the office armed with my Japanese-esque teapot and some loose leaf tea from my collection at my desk.
Some days it’s Dong Ding Oolong, other days it’s a fragrant Gyokuro. There’s hardly an occasion that wouldn’t be made better with tea. And unsurprisingly so, the folks at The Tea Crafters—Seth and Jeremy—couldn’t agree more.
Having quit their exhausting (read: terribly dreadful) 9 to 5 auditing jobs; and that’s 9am to 5am, mind you, the duo turned to tea crafting, blending, and retailing as their full time careers—leaving the stressful conditions and long hours from their previous roles far behind them.
Tea, to me, is nothing less than a universal love language, and quite frankly if anyone tells you that they don’t do tea (discounting health reasons), I strongly suggest ending the friendship and moving on. But that’s just my two cents’ worth, what do I know about keeping friends anyway?
The best way to learn about tea… is to taste it
Anyway, moving on from failed friendships and more into crafting tea, our experience is kicked off with a short introduction to tea and a tasting session by Jeremy. To those who couldn’t care less about the origins of tea and the intricacies of brewing, this segment might’ve been a one-way ticket to snooze town. But for wide-eyed, tea-adoring zealots like my colleagues and I, we’re like kids in a candy shop—sipping each brew with utmost attention, jotting down notes as if we were back in school all over again.
Going from lightest to heaviest, floral, vegetal, and smoky notes hit our palates with a vengeance, and it gradually becomes easier to discern the “who”s and “what”s of each tea type as we go along; of course, not without Jeremy’s tasting notes to aid.
You’ll quickly learn that blending not so much involves mindlessly putting two ingredients together and mixing, but it demands lengthy deliberation and experimentation to achieve the perfect balance in each cup. I’ll leave the perfect blends to the professionals, but tonight, I attempt to grasp a basic understanding of blending my own tea.
Often sorely misunderstood, tea should almost never be brewed at a scalding 100 degrees celsius because that amount of heat often ends up burning the tea leaves. Instead, each tea type usually has a unique brewing temperature, like 80 to 88 degrees for Oolong tea, 77 to 82 degrees for green tea, and so on.
Understandably, most of us don’t have temperature-regulated water just waiting around at our disposal at home, so Jeremy recommends leaving freshly boiled water to cool for about five minutes before pouring it in.
Blendy blendy, fine and dandy
It always starts with a base—green, white, black, a tisane, or whatever you please. Throw in two, even. And because we’re but humble, amateur tea blenders, the golden ratio for the tea base is exactly six teaspoons of tea leaves (they don’t call it a tea-spoon for nothing, I reckon), regardless of how many other ingredients we decide to throw into the mix later on.
Jeremy recommends blending with a maximum of another two ingredients—and guidelines are important here because we know that we’ll just go right off the rails whenever tea is concerned—each ingredient at one teaspoon each. Of the mix, there are freeze-dried peaches, strawberries, blueberry extract, jasmine flowers, wolfberries, rose buds, orange peels, mulberries, you get the gist.
The possibilities of permutations are endless—well, not endless, but when you leave my colleagues and I alone with jars of tea leaves and a free-flow of ingredients to pair, you might not be seeing us for quite a while.
I do a quick mental run-through of my current tea collection, and promptly decide on doing a white tea blend and pu’er blend to make up for what’s lacking. The last blend is one of black tea, rose, and lavender made for my boyfriend with utmost love and practicality; because helping him save a couple of dollars on his tea stash is just part of the unspoken relationship contract.
Named “Spring Day”, my white tea blend comprises just two simple flowers—jasmine and rose buds. With a tea this delicate, it’s important to only pair it with other equally subtle flavours, careful not to throw the balance of flavour off in any way.
“Berry Boys AK BB” on the other hand, is a joyful melody of rose, freeze-dried strawberries and pu’er tea—controversial I know, the nerve of me to pair Chinese tea with the likes of those. But this is, after all, a safe space of experimentation, and genius sometimes strikes at the oddest of circumstances.
And we’ve come to tea end
I know I often describe the crafts I do as therapeutic, and each are rightly so in their own ways. Pottery is like walking the fine balance of craftsmanship and restrain, while polymer clay earring making allows freedom of expression and experimenting. But tea blending is almost like a familiar friend that rises to greet you—no doubt you’ve worked with tea before, but never in this way, and it hasn’t crossed your mind that home-blending your own tea could be this affordable and accessible.
You know how the saying goes, give a girl some tea and you’ve got her covered for a day, but teach her to blend her own tea and she’s pretty much set for life. Okay well, something like that. I only have Jeremy to thank for tonight’s tea blending workshop, and just know that I’ll be experimenting and concocting my own blends for as long as my love for tea lasts—so like, forever.
Price: $ $
Our Rating: 5 / 5
The Tea Crafters
214A South Bridge Road, Singapore 058763
The Tea Crafters
214A South Bridge Road, Singapore 058763