Tea’s a Company

tc1I love drinking tea with a friend – just one – and being able to talk about life intimately and honestly. It is especially magical when said friend is Liz Steel, a legendary (and lovely) urban sketcher who chronicled our time together with such beautiful illustrations. What’s interesting is that with this record, I can even remember what she said at each tea/dish. Given how life seems to whizz by so quickly these days, I’m inspired by her to record more. I don’t really blog regularly these days but you can find my random thoughts on-the-go at @melanderings if you find my posts here too dated ;)


I love drinking tea with a group of tea-loving friends. I appreciate their grace in brewing tea and attention to aesthetic detail (see @pekoeimp as well as @julieteabits). The ambient chatter makes the tea taste sweeter, and there are always new things to learn (would like to hunt down some Sparrow Tongue green tea soon). We may all be in very different stages of our lives, and possibly very different wavelengths when it comes to religion or politics, but in this space, we are comfortable, accepting company.


I love drinking tea alone. I consider it a blessing that a client’s office was near one of my favourite tea/Thai places, and so I’ve spent countless afternoons here this year winding down, clearing my head, reflecting and regrouping. At this point of my life, mess (in both bad and fun forms) is really the default state on most days. Tea in solitude has given me the much-needed pockets of clarity I need.

How about you? How has tea been your companion? I would love to hear from you!

I’ve been around…but not really here.


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.


An Unintentional Tea Spokesperson

Because of this blog, some journalists have contacted me to provide quotes/information about tea for their articles.

Here’s one article from TimeOut Singapore:

And here’s another from Longitude, an in-house magazine for a marina club (see pg 21 – 23):

I find it rather surreal to be on the other side of the table (usually, I’m the one bugging people to tell me more about tea). Don’t get me wrong however, I’m always happy to share tea trivia and experiences!

Tea and Meditation

Something I wrote for T Ching at a rather crazy time in life…and though I thought I wouldn’t be able to write anything, this came out.

You can read the full article here.

Random Tea Bonding

This is something I’d wanted to write about a while back but somehow got distracted along the way.

A few months ago, I met two ladies at tea class. Usually, I’m not very chatty  with the other students taking lessons because I try to be focused. However, the teacher told the three of us, “Make friends with each other! You will get along.” So after we were done with most of our learning stuff, we introduced ourselves to each other and proceeded to talk tea for the next two hours. And by talk, I mean really talk and not just the usual social pleasantries.

I really enjoyed this interaction for several reasons. For one, I’m a shy person who usually takes several weeks/months to warm up to people. So to be able to yap with them for 120 minutes, that’s really saying something. Secondly, I was quite tired of making new acquaintances, but never getting any sense of what they were like because of wary grown-up shells. These ladies, however, were really quite open and down-to-earth and didn’t have anything to prove, which I found absolutely refreshing. Lastly, 99% of my friends have no idea why I’m so crazy about tea – so to be able to share my enthusiasm with like-minded people at a similar wavelength: pure awesomeness!

However, because of busyness, I’ve lost touch with them – so this is a reminder to myself that once this hectic period is over (end March), I’m going to drop them a note!

Chinese Tea Man in Cambodia

Well, Wang Xi is not officially a tea man – he is actually a photography curator that my husband and friends hobnobbed with at the Angkor Photo Festival. But boy is he serious about his tea; so much so that he brings a personal stash with him wherever he travels.

On the first night I met him, he had brought some Tieguanyin along and shared a pot with me. However, the water was “not right” so he was slightly outraged it did not taste as it usually did.

He had lots of stories to tell about drinking an exquisite variety of tea from assorted mountains with assorted rich Chinese old men (sorry, my Chinese is poor so I couldn’t grasp all the details). But it sounded like drinking tea is a good way for him to connect with people, something his job requires him to do a lot of.

Wang Xi got a lot of insect bites in Cambodia and I gave him a spare bottle of Tiger Balm (I forgot to bring mine , ran into an airport souvenir shop which only sold them in packs of 6 just before boarding). As a barter, he handed over the rest of his tea stash.

I can’t wait to try them! (Of course, this does not help with the still-bursting-at-the-seams tea supply I have at home).

It’s always nice to meet a tea loving person abroad.

Teacher Tea

A few days ago, I spoke to a wise friend about how I always seem to be rushing just to keep up with this frenzied paced of life. I asked her for advice on what to drop, as I’d been feeling overstretched of late.

“Should I cut back on the tea stuff?” I asked her. “It’s just a hobby anyway.”

She gave an incredulous look. “Why stop when it’s one of the few things that relaxes you?”

Good point. Besides that, I’ve also realised that tea has taught me a lot about myself.

So the whole point of this story? Don’t let something valuable go, even if there are other things and people that get in the way sometimes.

At a tea lesson with Ms Ong, she told me to stop trying to si(3) bei(4) – loosely translated as trying to memorise everything right – about the tea ceremony. It’s ok to forget steps, get a bit crooked and spill a little bit of tea here and there. “It will come to you naturally when your head and heart is clear.” (ohmmmmm…)

While I am not a perfectionist (have you seen the way I draw margins in an exercise book?), I know that I have much to learn about being flexible and making mistakes in life.

I also spent an evening talking to some hospitality students from University of Nevada, Las Vegas (Singapore campus) about tea. It was fun to hear their variety of views (“It’s just like hot water, just with different smells.”) and questions (“What’s the best type of tea to cure a hangover?) and as introverted as I am, I always enjoy chatting about tea with other people. I realise how in these few months, this little tea blog has actually been a social catalyst of sorts, and I’ve met many interesting, lovely people as a result. Tea, while a deeply personal thing, has helped me open up in ways which I never thought were possible.

How about you? How has tea been your teacher?

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