Four Festive Teas

xmastea

Christmas celebrations really do get hardcore don’t they? As you might know, I’m more or less a Christmas grinch but I tried to minimise aggravation this year by buying Christmas presents a month in advance so I would avoid all the crazy crowds that have me in a tizzy.

Nevertheless, hustle and bustle cannot be avoided and that’s where soothing tea comes in. And even though I hardly ever update this poor little tea blog, I received a bounty of fun festive teas from Tea Traders Company and Lupicia to bring cheer this claustrophobic season. Their sweet generosity even got me to create a Christmas greeting banner on this blog (SO not me), which goes to show how good vibes can neutralise even the grumpiest of people.

Here are my four favourite tea blends this festive season (L-R) which will make lovely gifts and/or post-feast hot beverage:

CAROL (Limited Edition by Lupicia): Black tea with strawberry, vanilla, rose petals and coconut flakes. Recommended to be drunk with milk but I had it “kosong” and was surprised how the coconut flavour gives the tea this lovely creaminess to it. Of course it also smells like something I wish I had as a moisturising cream.

DARK CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT (Art of Tea – a lovely new range of subtly-blended, organic teas that Tea Traders Co has just brought in). I’m generally very wary of chocolate-flavoured teas. It’s kind of like how I think coffee-flavoured teas are pointless. But this pu-erh blend really works, mostly because there’s no fake cloying sweetness. Just hints of cocoa notes that go so well with the earthy tea base and a lovely peppermint tang at the end. Pu-erh puritans – you just might find this a delight.

MANDARIN SILK (Art of Tea): A sure crowd-pleaser to go with Christmas fruit cake. This blend was the winner of the Best Flavoured Oolong at the World Tea Expo, Specialty Tea Institute and Tea Association of America. I like its citrus notes combining with the floral oolong though I did find the vanilla a bit strong. I’m definitely saving some of this for Chinese New Year.

JINGLE BELLS (Lupicia): Enough of the bubbly champagne? This black tea with cranberry makes a lovely, low-sugar substitute. The tea is a light black tea, which brings out the “grapiness” of this blend really well. Lupicia, being a Japanese brand, absolutely nails that grape flavouring and aroma really well without being too cloying or fake and I really could just stick my nose in a cup of Jingle Bells for a really long time. I’m thinking of cold-brewing it and adding some rock sugar syrup and frozen halved grapes for an upcoming gathering. Will tell you how that goes!

The best thing about all these teas? They can be bought online (click on the links) and delivered right to your doorstep.

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 Giveaway

I need to do something about my  bursting-at-the-seams tea collection at home. There’s no point hoarding so much tea if I never get to see/taste them.

So I thought I’d do the next best thing: practicing GenerosiTEA (couldn’t resist this!)

Yes, that’s right. I want to give tea away. I’m spreadin’ the tea lurve. Incidentally, to assure you of minimum hygiene standards, I keep most of my tea in the fridge in vacuum, dark conditions and I promise to use a sterilised mahogany tea scooper thing and put the leaves in a nice plastic zipper bag thing.

Want some tea? Drop me a note at mel@melanielee.sg, with the heading “I WANT FREE TEA” and include the following details:
a) Your name
b) Your postal address
c) What kind of tea you usually drink
d) What you’d like to see in this tea blog

I’ll e-mail you to let you know what tea  I’ll be sending over to you in the mail. I’m like a Secret SanTEA! (ok, ok, no more corny tea puns).

As with any sort of promotion, here are just some ground rules. This is just to make things simpler on my end as I’m not great with paperwork.

Terms and Conditions
a) Recipient should be living in Singapore (so tea will come to you nice and fresh!)
b) Each recipient is only eligible to one complimentary tea sample.
c) As much as possible, please don’t ask me to swap the tea I send over to you unless this involves allergies. It’s always fun to try something new yah?
d) I don’t expect an overwhelming demand but just to set the record straight, this giveaway is limited to the first 30 people who write to me with the complete information requested (see a-d).

Let the Season of Giving begin! 🙂