Review: Newby Teas (and their Christmas pop-up shop)

Update: I also have a very cool interview with the Newby Teas founder on T Ching! Do check that out as well :)

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Courtesy of Newby of London (Featured tea: Oriental Sencha)

I’m really happy to hear that another premium tea brand has made its way to this small, caffeinated island. We could always do with more  good tea – and Newby of London has the track record of serving up many delightful cuppas. It was established in 2000 and has loyal customers that include the three Royal Castles in Stockholm, 7-star Burj Al Arab in Dubai and the offices for the President and Prime Minister in Poland. It has also won around 85 awards from the North America Tea Championship and the British Great Taste Awards.

But that aside, Newby’s founder, Mr. Nirmal Sethia has a genuine love of tea (he even has an extensive collection of tea antiques and is a tea history buff). You can get a sense of his passion for tea in these interviews here:

Mr. Sethia sharing his tea journey with a TV channel in Kazakhstan

Mr. Sethia showing his antiques at Channel New Asia’s AM LIVE! show

(I love how he says, “Good tea is like a beautiful woman who is not to be judged by her appearance.”)

The new Singapore team from Newby of London kindly sent over some samples for me to try. I tried their Hunan Green Tea and the Kan-Junga Tea with the ladies from Pekoe & Imp, so there’s a bit of input from them as well (including ripping the pyramid bags to drink the tea loose leaf heh).

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Hunan Green, Kan-Junga

Hunan Green Tea (Ling Luo Chun): According to Jacq, this type of tea is all the rage in London now. We all agreed that this was a decent Chinese green tea with strong grassy notes. However, the amount was on the scarce side (to brew it Chinese tea ceremony style at least) so we only got a few sips of it between the three of us.

Kan-Junga: A sweet, muscatel black tea from Himalaya that we unanimously took a strong liking to. In fact, HY loved it so much she ordered Jacq to brew her a huge mug of it after the tasting. Jacq said it was “comparable to a Margaret’s Hope 2nd Flush Darjeeling” (I think that’s a good thing). I dig it too so I’m including a close-up shot of it here – please try it someday!

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Courtesy of Newby of London

Here are the other teas I tried from Newby on my own:

Darjeeling: I also really liked this! It had the typical muscatel notes, but also had this subtle woodiness that gave it a bit of a kick. There was this faint clove-like fragrance emanating from the steeped leaves which I found fascinating.

Jasmine Blossom: I think I’ve kind of “gotten over” Jasmine teas in general, so for me, I felt I would rather want to taste the actual tea as opposed to the strong floral aftertaste. However, for Jasmine tea fans, this would really make a lovely brew (it had these beautiful whole white Jasmine blossoms sprinkled in it too, so very pretty).

Peppermint: I’ve tried a lot of peppermint teas, and this has become one of my favourites. I’m seeing how I can arrange to buy a large supply of this! There was this natural sweetness to it, and had a stronger minty aroma compared to other mint teas I’ve tried, which absolutely goes down in my books!

Rooibos Tiramisu: Yep, I think I’m definitely off flavoured blends (and also am not a Tiramisu person). Generally, I prefer rooibos just with good ol’ honey and a squeeze of lemon. But I appreciate  the creativity of this blend with bits of barley malt, cocoa beans, roasted chicory root and white chocolate – the Tiramisu flavour was nailed down perfectly and also had all these textured bits to make it a fun drink. I’d say this would go really well with Christmas pudding or fruitcake.

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Courtesy of Newby of London

Speaking of Christmas, if you’d like a chance to sample Newby Teas, do drop by their Christmas pop-up store at the British Club this coming Tuesday and Wednesday. Here are the details:

Dates: 26 and 27 November 2013 (Tues & Wed)

Time: 10am – 5pm

Venue: The Elizabeth Suite at the British Club, 73 Bukit Tinggi Road, Singapore 289761

Contact marketing@newbyteas.sg if you would like more information. 

Tea Time in Taiwan (at Taka)

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As some of you might know, my fascination for Taiwanese tea has grown after attending the Pekoe & Imp workshop and my recent trip to Taiwan. As such, I’m pretty excited to let you guys know that there’s a Taiwan Fair coming to Takashimaya Singapore in a few days’ time with a whole bunch of tea goodies!

The fair is called “Tea Time in Taiwan”, and around 13 leading Taiwanese confectioners and tea merchants will be setting up stalls to promote Taiwanese tea culture as part of Taiwan’s Small and Medium Enterprise Administration (SMEA) One Town One Product programme. I dropped by the press conference earlier today and was especially intrigued by this teaware company called Hakka Blue.

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I couldn’t stop perving at their Pear Pot Set (above) …but I later found out from their representative Mr. Zhou that it costs $810.80 (ouch). He told me their most popular teaware is the Dumpling Set (see below) which I also find incredibly irresistible. Can anything be cuter than that?

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Anyway, back to the reportage. Here are the other tea-related merchants that will be present at the fair:

Yoshan Tea - Specialising in Dong Ding oolong

Eilong - Selling contemporary teaware

Eastern Tea - Here’s an example of their packaging:

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The rest are all the confectioners offering pineapple tarts, sun cakes, moon cakes, taro cakes, nougat etc. – sweets that are the perfect accompaniment to tea! The brands represented are OnePro Cake, Sugar & Spice, Kuo Yuan Ye, Pao Chuan, Shan Mai Taro Cake, Joy Well Cake Shop, Takao Cake Store, ROOROO, and Ivy House.

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The image above features an Eilong tea set with pastries from Ivy House – such a perfect pairing!.  I’m already looking forward to some tea shopping at Taka!

TEA TIME IN TAIWAN

Taiwan Fair at Takashimaya Singapore Basement 2
October 28 – November 10 from 10am – 9.30pm daily 

Timmy the Tenacious Teabag

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Copyright: Sheryl Khor

I’ve written an illustrated e-book of short stories called “Imaginary Friends: 26 Fables for the Kid in Us“. Essentially, it’s a collection of stories about stationery items, grocery produce, and assorted animals learning valuable lessons about life. (Yes, really.) Of course, it was necessary for me to throw a teabag into this mix – and so here you have Timmy the Tenacious Teabag.

I think my idea for this character came about from this line that’s attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt:

“A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water.”

Well, obviously, I take issue with this quote. For one, I prefer loose leaf tea. Also, why must a tea bag be female? And yes, for certain types of tea, the water cannot be too hot or the tea will just be burnt and bitter.

So of course, for my teabag – I made him male. And also, he doesn’t have a very happy ending. But let me not give away too much. If you’re interested in buying the e-book, it’s available on Kobo, Lybrary and ReaderStore. There’s also a Facebook Page.

I’ve been around…but not really here.

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Dear whoever still comes by here once in a while,

I just wanted to let you know that while I haven’t been industrious about updating this tea blog, I am still very much a tea lover and occasionally still churn out stories for T Ching (mostly because they give me deadlines – maybe I should do this here too).

Here’s what I’ve been up to the past few months:

I went for a really interesting tea workshop by Pekoe & Imp! 

After that, I did a little “tea pilgrimage” to Taiwan and it was awesome yo. 

I also did some “tea community work” by organising a short tea appreciation session for a Christian retreat. 

Time is a precious, precious commodity these days – and I’ve been finding it a real challenge to find “meteatime” regularly. But I think I’d like to spend more time with tea (and this blog); to put a pause button on all these fleeting moments and memories that seem to whoosh by my head like a roadrunner.

Cheers,
Melanie

Tea Loves: Lianne Ong (Plus Some Tea-Jewellery Pairing)

lianneLianne with her husband, Salmon. They love drinking tea (even though they have a “Drink Coffee” poster behind them) and have just set up an online designer fashion jewellery store called Pinwheel Jewels. Image courtesy of Jimmy Sng.

Lianne is a dear friend whom I have drunk many cups of tea with. In general, we talk about things like LIFE and FINDING PURPOSE…thank God there’s tea to mellow us down as we meander around these abstract topics.

I’m really happy for her because she’s  found something that suits her priorities and interests – opening up an online designer fashion jewellery store called Pinwheel Jewels with her husband, Salmon. She has a wonderful artistic eye, a sophisticated fashion sense and is a whiz in all things logistical – a perfect combination for such a business if you ask me!

While ogling at her jewellery over tea one day, I thought hey, wouldn’t it be fun to do a tea-jewellery pairing featuring some of the exquisite products from Pinwheel Jewels? And so, here’s what she came up with:

Lychee Oolong + Kenneth Jay Lane Chinois-inspired Carved Resin Earrings
“These earrings are a new take on traditional jade openwork carvings, just like this lychee infused oolong tea.”

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Japanese Green Tea with Sweet Berries + Sakura Earrings and Bracelet by Shlomit Ofir Jewelry Design
“These earrings and bracelet are the perfect match for this tea – sweet, delicate and floral.”

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Earl Grey Tea +  Pearl Tassel Earrings with Crystals by Ben-Amun
“This bergamot-scented brew and Art Deco style earrings would work perfectly on the set of Downton Abbey.”

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Turkish Apple Tea + Kenneth Jay Lane Black Deco Cuff with Rhinestones and Jade
“The sweet and warm Snow White meets her match with the Evil Queen – who sees green whenever her crystal mirror reveals the truth to her.”

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We had so much fun doing this – I think tea and jewellery are unexpectedly wonderful companions! And yes, as you can tell, Lianne really does love her tea. So of course, I need to do a Tea Loves feature on her too :)

Tell us more about your love of tea.
I start the day with tea, and I often have a pick-me-up in the afternoon as well. I started drinking tea as a child, and I remember the dentist asking my mother whether I drank tea because she could see tea stains on my teeth! Tea has become something comforting, and you can always find the right tea for every occasion. My husband also enjoys tea – we liked it enough to include it as a wedding favour for our guests when we got married.

What are your favourite teas and why?
I must qualify first that I’m not a tea expert, I just drink what I like and what seems fitting for the occasion. For cold teas, I like an iced Darjeeling. Our family has lived overseas twice, and during winter, I love a cup of chai. The spices are warming and the milk is so comforting.

Describe your most memorable tea moment.
When I was dating my husband, my future mother-in-law asked me to make a pot of tea. This was the first time I was allowed to potter around in her kitchen, which was strictly her turf. After making the pot of tea – where I had followed my gut instinct to make the tea extra strong – she told me, “I don’t know if you can cook, but you make a good pot of tea.”

How is wearing jewellery similar to drinking tea?
Jewellery is not only a way to express personal style, but also a way to make memories. I’m really sentimental about my jewellery, whether cheap or expensive. I always remember who gave what to me, during which occasion and why. It’s my time capsule. Similarly, certain tea blends can send me back in time and I’ll recall when I last had this tea, how I was feeling then, and whom I was drinking it with.

Pinwheel Jewels
https://www.facebook.com/pinwheeljewels
https://twitter.com/PinwheelJewels

And finally, I get to the best part:
PINWHEEL JEWELS IS OFFERING TEALADYMEL READERS  10% DISCOUNT  ON PURCHASES S$200 AND ABOVE! YAY!!
PROMO CODE: TEALOVES10
Promotion valid till 31 July 2013.
Not valid with other promotions and discounts.

Jap Tea Brand Lupicia in Singapore

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Image courtesy of Sarafine Concepts Asia

It has been a hard week for all of us here in Singapore with the haze situation. On a personal front, my childhood asthma sneakily returned with the surge of air pollutants, and my baby boy is down with a fever that we’re hoping very hard is not dengue (there’s a dengue epidemic happening concurrently, and at this point, we’re just waiting it out before tests can be done).

However, the one pleasant reprieve I did get this week was checking out the new LUPICIA store in Singapore. I first got to know about this Japanese tea brand when I went for the World O-Cha Festival three years ago, and I remember its pretty booth filled with pretty metal tea canisters.

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Image courtesy of Sarafine Concepts Asia

I later found out that LUPICIA is not just about its charming packaging, but also emphasises on fresh, high-quality teas that are processed and packaged in Japan. It is an immensely successful tea retail brand with over 100 stores in Japan, U.S.A, Taiwan, Australia and now Singapore (its first outlet in Southeast Asia).

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During the media launch, I got an intimate preview of the LUPICIA experience, which is all about the discovering new ways to prepare and enjoy tea. There were different stations with themes such as Japanese, Picnic, English Tea and Chai that presented a wide spectrum of tea types, cultures, preparation methods and pairings. In general, I prefer their unflavoured teas such as Darjeeling The First Flush and the Sencha “Chiran”, but I must say that their fruity teas are quite lovely such as Grapefruit Green and Momo Ooolong Super Grade. They also sell related tea products such as chai spices and tea-flavoured honey.

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But I guess what really got me excited was the affordable teaware that LUPICIA is retailing. I already know what I’ll be shopping for in the future – their adorable tea tasting ceramic cups and matcha accessories! I also really dig their “Original Handy Cooler” (above image, bottom left) – which I used today to cold brew some Sencha “Matsuri” for my husband after reading about how green tea might help alleviate the effects of haze (he finds it “too troublesome” to drink hot tea :P). Disclaimer: Green tea is not a cure-all. But psychologically, I just feel better giving loved ones something green-looking to drink during these smoggy days. Just blame the haze for this hazy rationale.

I’m really glad a tea brand such as LUPICIA has decided to set up a store here in Singapore – it fills in the gap for “mid-range tea drinkers”  (prices start from S$8 for a bag of 50g loose leaf tea or packet of 10 teabags) who might not be willing to part with hundreds of dollars for tea leaves or teaware, but want to take their tea journey to the next level. At the same time, there’s also plenty for the “fun tea drinker” who loves fruity and herbal blends (they even have a barley range that I want to try soon) and exclusive seasonal, single estate offerings for “serious tea drinkers”.

So no matter what kind of tea drinker you are, I reckon you’ll enjoy exploring the LUPICIA store – and there couldn’t be a better time to stock up on tea than now, when we’re all encouraged to stay home as much as possible.

In the meantime, keep healthy and happy fellow peeps in Singapore!

LUPICIA Singapore
#B1-12 Great World City
1 Kim Seng Promenade
Singapore 237994
Tel: 6737 0334

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LUPICIASG

Open daily from 10am- 10pm

Versatile Blogger Award

I was nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by pjdonna even though I haven’t had the time to blog here in a long, long time. Thanks hor! Dang, I feel bad. So ok ok, let me write down 7 tea-related things about myself:

  1. Sometimes, I really wonder why I like tea so much. It’s just a drink, right? But it’s probably the healthiest consumable I like so I am still keeping at it (even if I haven’t been very good with this blog).
  2. My personality is more like a jittery coffee person who talks extremely fast and freaks out at the slightest of things. But that is why all the more I need tea in my life.
  3. The nicest – and most horrible – people I’ve met are from the tea industry. For such a mellow drink, it has brought about many polarising experiences.
  4. I am looking for a nice wooden retro teaware display cupboard to put my teaware. Does anyone know where I can get this?
  5. I don’t like it when people dismiss tea without even trying the good stuff. I don’t like it when people who only try the good stuff get snooty and dismiss the more “plebian” tea drinkers. Yes, I’m a conflicted chick.
  6. I would like to write a tea book one day – but I’m still mulling over what kind of tea book should it be: swinging from a dummy’s guide resource to a history book to speculative fiction.Decisions, decisions!
  7. I would very much like to go to Taiwan soon for a tea pilgrimage.

And here are the bloggers I nominate for this award (mostly tea bloggers of course!) – sorry I don’t quite know 15 yet unforunately!

Black Dragon Tea Bar

Steph’s Cup of Tea

Peonyts’ Blog 

Miss Tea Delight 

Faerie Tales 

Teahouse Stirrings 

Tea Pages 

 How The Versatile Blogger Award Works: 

If you are nominated, you’ve been awarded the Versatile Blogger award.

  •  Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  •  Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
  •  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. ( I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)
  •  Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
  •  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

 

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