There’s no denying how much we love tea here in Asia but how do we differentiate quality tea? To answer some of the question you’ve probably had while preparing tea, we had the chance to talk to Tea Château’s Tea Master Elton Yeung to tell us more about the origin of tea to how to brew the perfect cup of tea.
Nana Asia: What are the benefits of drinking tea?
The Chinese have a long history of tea-drinking culture, with medicinal purposes dating back thousands of years. It is said that tea was first discovered by Shennong, the “Divine Farmer” from Chinese mythology, who used tea for medicinal purposes before it was ingested as food, and then later consumed as a beverage. From aiding digestion and metabolism to maintaining general health and wellbeing and uplifting the mood, tea’s benefits are surprisingly diverse.
Today people drink tea for its functional benefits but also as a wellness beverage of choice. In the modern day we drink tea to help relax the mind and body. Some see brewing tea as a ritual that calms the soul. There is a real art to brewing and enjoying tea and today there are tea drinking ceremonies and workshops that people take part in. With growing demand for healthier beverage options, we can also see more young people turning to tea for its health and wellness benefits.
Nana Asia: How do you choose the right kind of tea? What are some ways to identify good quality tea?
There are 6 main types of Chinese tea – green tea, white tea, yellow tea, Oolong tea, black tea and dark tea – with green tea being the more light-bodied and dark tea more rich-bodied. Each tea has its own unique flavour profile and may suit different people according to their taste preferences. In Chinese tea drinking culture, we may select the tea based on the season of the year. For example, in the summertime we may consume a “cooler” and more refreshing tea such as green tea; in the winter we may choose black or dark tea for its warming properties. In Chinese culture and the world of medicine, we may also drink teas that are more suited to our body types, which can be prone to internal heat or cold and dampness.
To identify good tea, we can use our senses to differentiate the quality. With our sight we can appreciate the colour grading of the tea liquid, a good cup should have a balanced layering and a clear, vibrant tone. With our scent and taste receptors we can identify certain notes and properties that each type of tea should give off.
Nana Asia: How has the culture of drinking tea changed?
The tea was actually first used for medicinal purposes before it was ingested as food and then later consumed as a beverage. Tea culture and the tea scene has been constantly evolving over the different eras ever since. Tea today is seen as a lifestyle beverage as much as a functional one. People drink tea for its health benefits as well as for its flavour. More and more people are becoming increasingly interested in tea and its origins, blends and flavour profiles. We are seeing a growing number of consumers view tea like sommeliers view wine, just like people enjoy drinking Pu’er for its full-bodied texture and Dahongpao for its distinctive aroma, all with different tea wares to bring out the best quality of each tea. Many Hong Kongers also drink tea for its health benefits. Infused with Chinese medicinal properties, functional teas are a popular choice for many.
With all modern consumers we are pressed for time. People seek quality goods with the utmost convenience. At Tea Château we offer a wide range of quality teas brewed simply at the touch of a button, allowing tea lovers to enjoy the perfect cup of their choice with simplicity. Tea today is also experimented with food pairing, where teas from various origins can be enjoyed with foods from different cultures, showing that the world of tea has endless possibilities to be explored!
Nana Asia: How does the brewing method affect the tea?
There are many ways to brew a good cup of tea. Temperature and water volume are some of the factors that would directly affect the tea liquid quality. With Tea Château we offer a capsule and machine system where quality, convenience and choice meet. Our Tea Capsule machine features a 15 bar pressure at the optimal water temperature of 90˚C. It also allows you to adjust the in-cup water volume to your liking for a stronger or weaker tea. For added convenience, Tea Château’s small capsules are compatible with Nespresso coffee machines, while the large capsules are compatible with Nescafé Dolce Gusto coffee machines as well.
Nana Asia: What makes a good cup of Tea?
There are a few key elements that would affect the quality of tea:
- Quality of tea leaves: a good cup of tea starts with the quality of leaves. The origin, season of harvest, harvesting method, processing techniques, craftsmanship etc. all affect the flavour.
- Brewing method: the temperature and water volume are important factors affecting tea liquid quality. The ideal water temperature for brewing tea is 90˚C.
- Tea Ware: the equipment that you use to drink the tea also makes a difference. Different shapes, sizes, and the thickness of the cup can affect the tea drinking experience. For example, cups with a narrower opening allows the aromas to concentrate as you take a sip.
- Water: The type of water you use to brew tea can alter the taste profile greatly. Using soft water is ideal as it contains the right amount of minerals which help bring out the tea aroma and taste. This can also create a silkier and smoother texture.