Peddling more than brews with mystical Chinese names, Singapore's new breed of tea brands is dropping a touch of modernity into the afternoon delight. Grab them as gifts, or gather your squad for a chat session over these blends and single-origins.
Nasi lemak, spicy fortune cookies and silver dust aren't exactly typical in the tea world, but Victor Koh's ETTE tea blends dare to imagine those flavours in a brew. Unlike the regular leaves you'd dunk in water, these are loose-leaf-and-bits, packed in pretty caddies and pouches. The Pandan Chiffon evokes memories of the childhood snack, the Kris Grey spikes Earl Grey with South-East Asian ingredients, and the flavour dubbed ‘The Moon Represents My Heart’ brings together milk oolong, coconut, lotus stamen and bergamot. All teas cost $26 for 50 grams.
Raise a pinkie for… The Nasi Lemak blend, a rare savoury tea that's perplexing in its first drop, then moreish with notes of coconut rice, pandan, and even a light kick of spice.
Declare your allegiance to your soul neighbourhood by grabbing a tin of Pin Tea's single-origins and blends, each modelled after local districts like Changi, Tekka and Kampong Glam. Co-owner and food writer Debbie Yong sources Pin's organic and pesticide-free whole leaves from a local tea merchant that’s been in the business for over a century. Yong then mixes the leaves with: rose petals to mimic bandung in the Cha Cha Changi flavour; glutinous rice to reference Peranakan flavours in the Katong Convert; and mint and lemongrass harvested from Comcrop’s rooftop farm in the Kampong Glamour.
Raise a pinkie for… Sentosa Sunrise ($18/12 teabags, $25/18 teabags), an orange tin filled with punchy Darjeeling leaves from a top estate in India.
This two-year-old tea brand by Angela Phua first came to prominence with the artisanal food movement that swept through local pantries, and stocks a 40-strong inventory of single-estate and blended teas in gorgeous packaging. Phua has made it possible to pick up prime Fujian Silver Needle ($11-$29), organic Gyokuro ($11-$29) and Taiwanese Formosa Oriental Beauty ($10-$26) in sampler sizes, but her wine-inspired blends make living through a dry January easier to bear. Plus, the kitchen swag hoarders in us can't resist the A.Muse Projects' branded tea hook infusers ($18) and wood-lidded, double-walled glass bottles ($42.90) for on-the-go drinking.
Raise a pinkie for… Chardonnay Tea ($11/10g-$32/50g), which constructs the varietal's character on oolong with the infusion of papaya, orange peel, rose petals and vanilla beans.
Lim Tian Peng, heir to historic homegrown tea company Lim Lam Thye – and brother of the founder of Gryphon – set up this brand to throw a glam spotlight on Chinese tea while keeping it affordable. Its wood-boxed Majestic Treasures collection, at $26, packs leaves from major tea-growing regions in China, like Yunnan, Jiangsu and Anxi, as well as Nantou in Taiwan. And the Shanghai Tisanes ($15) blend is caffeine-free and great for late-night sipping. The brand also one-ups the competition by earning a Good Taste badge from the UK for its Pandan Chiffon, Singapore Sling, Straits Spice and Vanda Miss Joaquim (all $20) blends.
Raise a pinkie to… The Singapore Sling caffeine-free tea blend ($20). Besides its display-worthy box with Art Deco stripes, this tropical sipper conjures the Sling's signature flavours with dried fruits and South African rooiboos leaves.